Mexican artisans embroider handmade masks

35 women from Juchitán, Morelos are depicting their textile art in handmade masks

Mexican artisans embroider handmade masks for the COVID-19 crisis
Bellas Juchitecas is a group of Mexican female artisans - Photo: Roselia Chaca/EL UNIVERSAL
English 14/05/2020 18:20 Mexico City Roselia Chaca Actualizada 18:56

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It all began with 20 female weavers in late April; now, 35 Zapotec women from different parts of Juchitán are making over 50 handmade masks every day for the Mexican, U.S., and Canadian market.

It is a way to stay strong, they say, during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mexico.

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The 20 weavers and 15 seamstresses belong to the Bellas Juchitecas group; all of them know how to embroider and weave and have over 20 years of experience; the youngest one of them is 11 years old while the eldest is 60.

Likewise, they all live in the Ninth, Eighth, and Seventh section of this Zapotec city of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, as well as in popular neighborhoods.

In an interview with EL UNIVERSAL, Sarahí Flores, the coordinator of the group, said that they began with 20 weavers and in only a week, they were able to create jobs for 15 seamstresses known as “rabonas,” who are in charge of making the masks with machines inside their workshops and who were unemployed due to the health crisis.

In only 15 days, these women have made 200 masks that they have sent to different parts of the country and abroad including Mexico City, Puerto Rico, Canada, and the U.S.

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Moreover, these women have a pending order of 400 embroidered masks so they are working non-stop. Each of them makes six masks per day and they work from 8:00 to 22:00.

“This all began when the [coronavirus] crisis surged because we had all of our orders canceled and since we had no job, we decided to make masks with washable and resistant materials,” said Sarahí Flores.

But it is not only about wearing the Zapotec embroideries with pride: each of the masks is reinforced. They are made with three different layers of fabric and each mask costs MXN $100. Some of them are decorated with colorful flowers but there are plenty of designs both for men and women.

The women behind this project, that besides saving lives shares the art of embroidery, are Florina Vásquez, Sarahí Flores, Sirena Ramírez, Beatriz Ramírez, Lucero Ragado, Angélica María Rasgado, Claudia, Janet, Juana Villavicencio, Lucero Sánchez, Lucía Vásquez, Luz Elena Rasgado, Manuela Rasgado, María, Martha Luis Vásquez, Mayra, Rosy, Vlaentina Aquino Rasgado, Elianet Aquino, Gabriela, and Maritza.

All of them are the artisans fighting COVID-19 with their handmade art. As of May 13, Mexico’s health authorities have confirmed 40,186 COVID-19  cases and 4,220 deaths.

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