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Where the huipiles are born

Huipiles are a work of art; they take up to 4 months to make. Celia talks to us about this tradition and its challenges
Where the  huipiles are born
Huipiles – Photo: Alex Cruz/ EFE
16/07/2018
11:59
Yuridiana Sosa/ Corresponsal
Oaxaca
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For over 40 years, Celia Jacobo Ortiz has dressed dancers from the Flor de Piña Tuxtepec delegation, who participate in the Guelaguetza every year.

With each embroidery, this 65-year-old woman leaves a part of her life in every huipil.

The Guelaguetza is the perfect scenario to admire their works of art. You can see them from the Guelaguetza's auditorium, in the city of Oaxaca, where the majesty of the dances and the beauty of the huipiles show what this region has to offer.

Celia spends 4 months or more working in these huipiles, but she says she's very proud and happy to see the dancers wear the clothes that were born in her hands. Every sleepless night and every minute is worth it, and she hopes that one day the Chinanteca culture is recognized for its clothes in Mexico and all over the world. That's her biggest dream.

guelaguetza.jpg
Celia shows the huipiles she's making for the Guelaguetza - Photo: File Photo/EL UNIVERSAL

Embroidery is tradition, its passed down to every generation. Celia learned from to embroider since she was a child, just by watching her mother and grandmother, and si it happened with one of her children.

Celia preserves her family's legacy by continuing the tradition but also by saving the old huipiles her family made, some are over 160 years-old.

Celia says that the huipiles from the Valle Nacional, a municipality in the Cuenca, are beautiful not just for their colors or designs, but because they also tell stories, such as the marriage huipil, that has a two doves embroidered in the center, they highlight love, the couple's relationship, and the religious communion, and the flowers are a symbol of happiness about the woman's pregnancy.

You can’t make a living off huipiles, says Celia. From a young age, she understood that art wouldn't be enough and that she had to look for other income sources, as the process of making a huipil takes up to 4 months.

Celia is also afraid, she's afraid of being plagiarized by the Chinese, as she heard this happened before with other clothes from Oaxaca, and she's also fighting against resellers, who make more profit than the artisan.

She's unsure about the laws that protect her as an artist; how the government can help her or how to participate in expositions or bazaars.

With every thread, Celia hopes that the world turns its head to the Valle Nacional and its huipiles and that with time it attracts tourists or is shown on television.
 

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