A loan of $2,775 helped a member to buy materials for making hand-crafted textiles; white cotton thread, natural cotton thread dyed with 'caracol púrpura' (a shell-based dye), mulberry- and cherry-colored threads for making 'naguas' (traditional skirts), different colored worsted yarns, ribbons, silk thread, thread skeins.


Abasolo San Juan Jicayan Group's story

The following group is called “Abasolo” and their representative is called Edna B. M.. The group's name was chosen in honor of the street where the group's members live in the settlement of San Juan Jicayan which is located 45 minutes north of Pinotepa Nacional, Oaxaca. The women's settlement is entirely maD. up of Mixtec indigenous people. Most of the inhabitants work in crafts and in farming. Amongst the hand-crafted items which they produce are 'jícaras' (traditional drinking bowls maD. from calabashes or gourds), textiles such as 'naguas' (skirts) and 'huipiles' (blouses or tunics). These 'naguas' and 'huipiles' form part of their traditional dress.

The magic of this settlement lies in its traditions and customs but unfortunately its people have suffered great changes. This is the case, for example, of the patenting of 'huipil' making. They were displaced by foreign machines and have been robbed of the legacy of their symbology. In this settlement, poverty prevails and they have been neglected by the authorities. This means that its inhabitants have emigrated to the United States and other places away from their communities. Ignorance and a lack of education are ingredients which combine with the inequality which is found in the majority of the indigenous settlements in this region. At the end of this story we will see the name of each one of the members of this group and the business activities which they pursue to make money.

On this occasion, let us make a space so that we can talk a little about the life of one of the members of this group. Mrs Julia Dionicio Hernández is 32 years old. She is married to 36 year-old Félix who has spent all his life working in the fields. Julia has been married for 15 years and has 5 children who are currently studying. Her children are: 15 year-old Miguel who is in the third year of high school, 13 year-old Adelina who is in her first year of high school, 10 year-old Florentino, 8 year-old Juana and 7 year-old Félix who are in their fifth, third and second years of elementary school. They all speak Mixtec and their mother speaks only very little Spanish.

Since she was 10 years old, Julia has been making traditional garments which are now known as handicrafts such as: 'naguas' (traditional skirts), backstrap loom weavings, 'huipiles' (traditional blouses or tunics), napkins and also hand-maD. threads. This has been part of a legacy which has been passed down from generation to generation and which also provides money to support the family. As we have already mentioned, Julia has spent her whole life making handmaD. textiles called 'backstrap loom weaving' but what is backstrap loom weaving and what do you make with it?

Let us talk a little more about backstrap loom weaving which is known as 'saahma tavi'. This technique dates back to ancient times. We can point out that it is from pre-hispanic times and has great value and its own style. Rustic materials maD. from unique wood are used along with a unique finish. Items of clothing are maD. such as 'naguas' (traditional skirts which are called 'chee' in Mixtec), 'huipiles' to cover the back and there are also backstrap loom weaving techniques for the making of 'huipiles' in the form of a dress which are called 'shicu lestu'. In the making of these clothes, the dyes also have ancient origins since they are use dyes obtained from a sea shell known as 'caracol púrpura' (literally, 'purple shell') from which colors such as 'guinda' (a cherry color), 'morado' (a mulberry color) and purple are obtained. They also use indigo, cochineal and 'árbol D. caracol' (another kind of shell-based dye). In fact, these clothes just can't be compared to clothes created on an industrial machine.

Julia joined a loan group because she needed a loan to acquire the necessary material to make her crafts. With this money she will be able to buy the following material: cotton threads for making 'huipiles', rustic threads for creating backstrap loom weavings, shell-dyed threads for making 'naguas', different colored threads for making napkins and tablecloths, embroidery threads and different colored worsted yarns and ribbons.

One of Julia's most longed-for dreams is to set up an organization of craftswomen where she can preserve and teach the valuable techniques of this art as well as promote these items of clothes which have been displaced by modernist fashion trends. She would also like for women of few means to be able to learn this traD. so that they can improve their lives and those of their families, to show that indigenous women can shine and no longer need to be in a corner, abandoned and lagging behind. She also wants to see her children be successful. She wants them to have a better life, far from poverty and need, and for them not to have to emigrate. She wants them to be good and hard-working people.

All the people who make up this group are hard-working women. They are all indigenous women, full of vitality and an infinite hope, who believe in their dreams and believe in the goodness of other people.

Julia is totally grateful for this noble gesture of help which the people who are supporting Fundación Realidad are offering. Those around the world who are putting in their grain of sand through Kiva to improve the lives of the most vulnerable. In the name of her fellow group members, she sends you a big hug.

Below we give you the names of those who make up the “Abasolo” group and list their business activities: Lucia D. C.. – making 'antojitos' (traditional Mexican snacks generally sold at street stands) María Guadalupe Hernández D..- food sales Luz D. L. S. L..- selling 'antojitos' Elvira S. C..- hand making traditional clothes Edna B. M..- selling chilis and seeds Gabriela Gómez Hernández.- fruit and vegetable sales Hilaria D. Gómez.- selling 'antojitos' Anatalia T. Hernández.- selling 'antojitos' Julia Dionicio Hernández.- making hand-crafted clothes Lizbeth Hernández B..- selling catalog products

In this group: Lucia , Maria Guadalupe, Luz, Elvira, Edna , Gabriela*, Hilaria, Anatalia, Julia, Lizbeth
*not pictured

Translated from Spanish by Kiva volunteer Linda Oxnard


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