Oaxaca de Juárez Oaxaca Mexico c
Oaxaca de Juárez Oaxaca Mexico c
Oaxaca de Juárez Oaxaca Mexico c

Textiles, Arts & crafts of Mexico
Friday 10 May – Monday 27 May 2024

Celebrate the Vela Sandunga Festival. A Small Group Tour Led by Chloë Sayer.

Textiles, Arts and Crafts of Mexico Led by Chloë Sayer 10-27 May 2024

Few countries in the world offer such a rich and varied cultural heritage as Mexico. Before the Spanish Conquest of 1521, numerous civilisations rose and fell. Great cities were peopled by muralists, sculptors in stone, ceramic artists, jewellers, weavers, and painters of sacred books. Colonisation brought Christianity to Mexico: exquisite churches and vast cathedrals were built to celebrate the new faith. The Colonial period also saw the introduction of new craft materials and styles. During the twentieth century, influential painters like Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo raised the profile of Mexico’s popular traditions. Today the arts and crafts of Mexico remain an essential part of life. They are a living force, not a nostalgic evocation of a vanished past. Folk-artists in the states of Mexico, Puebla and Oaxaca create splendid weavings, rich embroideries, shimmering beadwork, jewellery of silver and gold, fine pottery and elaborate dance-masks for religious festivals. This itinerary offers an introduction to Mexican culture. It takes travellers into the homes and workshops of important artist families, and includes the spectacular Vela Sandunga. On the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, religious devotion is flamboyantly expressed through Velas or local festivals. During la Vela Sandunga, celebrated at the end of May, women in Tehuantepec honour their patron saint by proudly wear their finest embroidered clothing.

Chloë Sayer

Lecturer and curator Chloë Sayer will accompany you on this journey and will give illustrated talks. Her many books include "The Arts and Crafts of Mexico", “Fiesta" and “Mexico: Clothing & Culture". Chloë has been travelling in Mexico for over 40 years. She has collected Mexican textiles and folk art for the British Museum, and is a Research Associate with the Royal Ontario Museum.

18 days
Mexico City - Teotihuacán - Puebla City - Cuetzalan - Oaxaca City

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Itinerary View Map
Mexico Day 2

Day 1 : To Mexico City

Fly to Mexico city. (International flights are not included please contact us for a quote). On arrival in Mexico you will be met on arrival and transferred to the Hampton Inn & Suites in the city Centro Histórico.

Day 2 Mex City

Day 2 : Mexico City

Introductory illustrated talk by Chloë Sayer after breakfast.

Walking tour of the Centro Histórico: See Diego Rivera’s celebrated murals in the National Palace, and stroll through the old Aztec city. Have lunch overlooking the Zócalo (main square) from the rooftop restaurant of the Majestic Hotel. The afternoon is spent in the world-famous Museum of Anthropology, admiring the work of the ancient Olmec, Maya, Zapotec and Mixtec peoples. Relax afterwards in the upscale Polanco district and enjoy a margarita cocktail in the modernist Camino Real (completed in 1968 by architect Ricardo Legoretta). The day ends with early evening cocktail and a welcome dinner back in the Centro Histórico Hotel. B, L, D

Mexico Day 3

Day 3 : Mexico City

After breakfast visit the Casa Azul (Blue House) in Coyoacán where Frida Kahlo was born in 1907 and where she died in 1954. Many of her paintings are on show, together with her collection of Mexican folk art and clothing. Afterwards we enjoy lunch on a colourfully painted and flower-bedecked trajinera (flat-bottomed wooden boat) while we navigate the ancient waterways of Xochimilco. After a short rest at the hotel, we eat dinner in the tiled splendour of the Café de Tacuba before going to Bellas Artes to see the Ballet Folklórico. Founded in 1952 by choreographer Amalia Hernández, this world-renowned company performs the traditional music and dances of rural Mexico. B, L, D

Mexico Day 4

Day 4 : To Teotihuacán

The day starts with a drive of just over an hour to the ancient city of Teotihuacán. At its height between 150 BC and AD 750, this imposing metropolis — once the largest urban centre in the Americas — dominated the political and religious life of central Mexico. Laid out on a formal grid plan, it is overlooked by the immense pyramids of the Sun and the Moon. Plazas and palaces are arranged along a wide ritual avenue. After lunch, while driving back to our hotel in Mexico City, we stop off at the sixteenth-century monastery of Acolmán followed by the Basilica at La Villa. This is the most visited Catholic shrine in the world, and pilgrims come in their thousands each day to honour Our Lady of Guadalupe. Illustrated talk by Chloe Sayer about Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. B, L

Mexico Day 5

Day 5 : Tenancingo Textiles

Tenancingo de Degollado (approx. 2 hours from Mexico City) is renowned for its eye-catching ikat-dyed cotton rebozos (fringed rectangular shawls). We visit the weaving workshops of makers to watch complex dying procedures and admire the dexterity of local women who knot the decorative warp fringes. Finished work is for sale. We will stop for lunch at Las Canastas Restaurant.

In the afternoon we drive to the charming town of Metepec and check into the Biohotel. There will be an evening talk by Chloë Sayer. B, L

Mexico Day 6

Day 6 : Metepec Ceramics

Metepec is famous for its hand-modelled, brightly painted pottery sculptures. Prize-winning examples are displayed in the local museum. We meet the makers of intricate "trees of life" in their workshops, and are shown how to model clay. We can also admire the traditional skill of paper-cutting: sharp chisels are hammered through layers to paper to make colourful banners with the delicacy of lace. Evening talk by Chloë Sayer B, L

Mexico Day 7

Day 7 : To Puebla City

From Metepec we drive to the City of Puebla, founded in 1531, and check in at the comfortable NH Puebla Hotel in the city centre. After lunch, on our afternoon walking tour, we admire the many churches, mansions and handsome old buildings that line the streets. Puebla's distinctive architecture is famed for its ornate stuccowork and gleaming glazed tiles. La Capilla del Rosario (Rosary Chapel), built in 1650-1690 inside the Church of Santo
Domingo, has been called the eighth wonder of the world. Shimmering with 23-carat gold-leaf decoration, it exemplifies the baroque splendour of the period. We also visit the Museo Bello, formerly the home of a wealthy
nineteenth-century collector. During our welcome dinner at the renowned restaurant Mural de los Poblanos, we sample the regional cuisine of Puebla. B, D

Day 8 Tlaxacala r

Day 8 : Puebla & Tlaxcala Cities: Ceramics, textiles, mask-making

Illustrated talk by Chloe Sayer after breakfast.
Puebla remains an important centre for talavera or glazed earthenware, known in Europe as maiolica or faience. We tour a ceramic workshop to see the various procedures. The shimmering surfaces of talavera pottery often feature intricate hand-painted designs. Next we visit the churches of San Francisco Acatepec and Santa María Tonantzintla. Built in resplendent Indigenous baroque style, with colourful plasterwork and gleaming talavera tiles, they fuse European and native traits. We drive to the nearby City of Tlaxcala, and eat lunch on the colonnaded central square. After a visit to the Regional Folk Art museum, where skilled makers give demonstrations in situ, we visit a mask-maker in his workshop before returning to our hotel in Puebla. The wooden masks of Tlaxcala are among the finest in Mexico. Worn by dancers during religious celebrations, masks have pale skin tones, glass eyes and moveable eyelids. B

Mexico Day 9

Day 9 : To Cuetzalan

We drive to the highland town of Cuetzalan del Progreso. Founded in 1547, it lies 1000 metres above sea level. As the road climbs, twisting and turning, it passes pine and oak forests, tree ferns, and lush creepers. En route, we eat an early lunch in the picturesque town of Zacapoaxtla. On our arrival in Cuetzalan, we check into the Hotel Posada Cuetzalan. We meet local weavers, who use the backstrap loom and specialise in the intricate and ancient art of gauze weaving. Textiles and other craft items are displayed in the town's small museum. B, L, D

Mexico Day 10

Day 10 : Cuetzalan

Morning at leisure to enjoy the Sunday market, which attracts traditionally, dressed villagers from outlying Totonac and Nahuatl-speaking communities. The secular and the sacred are inseparable in this region. In Cuetzalan's main church, the Virgin Mary and the female saints are exquisitely clothed in Indigenous clothing. In the afternoon we visit the archaeological site of Yohualichan, and spend time in a renowned textile workshop in the hamlet of Cuauhtamazaco. Here local styles of weaving and embroidery are keenly maintained. B

Mexico Day 11

Day 11 : To Oaxaca City

From Cuetzalan we drive into the state of Oaxaca, past stunning mountain landscapes, stopping for a leisurely breakfast and a light lunch on the way. The central valleys of Oaxaca have been inhabited for thousands of years. The Zapotec, the Mixtec and other Indigenous peoples still farm the land and retain many of their ancient craft skills. In Oaxaca City (the state capital) we check into the charming Hotel Casa Sierra Azul. During the afternoon we walk through the Colonial centre, and visit a tinsmith in his workshop. The shady courtyard of the Quinta Real, a restored sixteenth-century convent, is the perfect setting for an early evening cocktail. This is followed by dinner and a chance to sample Oaxacan cuisine at its best. B, L, D

Mexico Day 12

Day 12 : Teotitlán del Valle

The ancient Zapotec town of Teotitlán del Valle remains an important weaving centre. Before the Spanish conquest, Oaxacan weavers were predominately female: they clothed themselves and their families using locally grown cotton and the backstrap loom. After the introduction of sheep's wool in the mid-16th century, however, wool became the dominant fibre and men learned to use freestanding European treadle looms. Teotitlán del Valle became known for its eye-catching tapestry-woven sarapes (rectangular over-garments with an opening for the head). Many feature complex geometrical designs. We spend time in Teotitlán with master weavers who use cochineal, indigo and other natural dyes. Lunch, served in the famous Tlamanalli restaurant, features local dishes. On the way back to Oaxaca City, we stop in the village of Tlacochahuaya to admire the sixteenth-century church with its handsome altarpieces and exquisite frescoes. B, L

Day 13 Mixtec gold

Day 13 : Treasures of Monte Albán

Early morning visit to the archaeological site of Monte Albán, while temperatures remain cool. This once powerful city, founded by the Zapotec before 200 BC and later controlled by the Mixtec, commands views of the valley below. Deceased rulers were interred in subterranean tombs near the vast ceremonial plaza. Afterwards we meet ceramic artists in nearby Atzompa, where pottery has been made for hundreds of years. Back in Oaxaca City, we make an afternoon visit to the church of Santo Domingo, with its resplendent baroque interior, and the adjoining Cultural Center where magnificent Mixtec goldwork from Monte Albán is displayed. B

Mexico Day 14

Day 14 : Ocotlán de Morelos: Textiles and Ceramics

The day is spent visiting artist families and a cochineal plantation on the road to Ocotlán de Morelos, known for its folk art museum, bustling market and recently restored church. Weavers in Santo Tomás Jalieza use the backstrap loom to pattern sashes and bags, manipulating the warp to form complex designs. Potters in San Bartolo Coyotepec are famed for their blackware, fired in specially constructed underground kilns. B

Mexico Day 15

Day 15 : Oaxaca: Mitla & Tehuantepec (on the isthmus)

We drive to Tehuantepec on the Isthmus of Oaxaca, stopping en route at the archaeological site of Mitla. Famous for the high-relief geometric carvings that adorn its main buildings, Mitla was an important Zapotec city from 700AD until the Spanish Conquest. We visit craft stalls outside the site, and eat lunch nearby. The road to the Isthmus passes scenic agave plantations on near-vertical hillsides. In Tehuantepec, we check into the Hotel Donaji and visit local Zapotec embroiderers. B, L, D

Mexico Day 16

Day 16 : Tehuantepec: Fiesta! Festival Vela Sandunga

Women who live on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, and take pride in the richly embroidered clothing of the region, are known as Tehuanas. Frida Kahlo often dressed as a Tehuana in real life and in her self-portraits. For La Vela Sandunga, celebrated on the last Saturday in May, local women wear their most splendid attire. Before festivities start, we visit market vendors selling festive clothing (a voluminous skirt and a close-fitting top). These can be altered on the spot to fit those of us wishing to dress in Tehuana style!

Festivities are spectacular, joyous and unforgettable! B

Mexico Day 17

Day 17 : To Oaxaca City

We drive back to Oaxaca City for our last night at Hotel Casa Sierra Azul. The afternoon is at leisure. There is time to shop, visit the city's many galleries and museums, or tour the Botanic Garden beside the Church of Santo Domingo. We reconvene for a farewell dinner at the renowned Los Danzantes restaurant. B, D

Soaring above the clouds a view from the airplane window

Day 18 : To London

Sadly it is now time to leave Mexico and begin your journey home.
Fly Mexico City (flight approx 1 hr) then connect to your onward flight home. B

Itinerary map

Prices

Price per person
(Double/Twin share)
Single room supplement
£4,358.00 £950.00
Cost includes:
  • Accommodation with private facilities as mentioned in the itinerary.
  • Domestic flight between Oaxaca to Mexico
  • Meal Plan: Meals as specified
  • All transfers and sightseeing arrangements by a private vehicles.
  • Entry fee for monuments and places of interest.
  • Services of a local English speaking guide.
  • Services of Chloë Sayer as Tour Leader.
  • Full ABTA & ATOL Bonding.
Cost does not include:
  • International Flights
  • Visa for Mexico.
  • Any expenses of a personal nature.
  • Tips and gratuities.
  • Travel Insurance*

We plan to follow this detailed itinerary, but events beyond our control – unpredictable weather, unruly rivers, blocked roads, cancelled flights, mechanical breakdown etc – may require changes and work-arounds at the last moment.

All tour payments to Indus Experiences are 100% protected by our ATOL and ABTA Licences.

*Travel Insurance

It is essential to have adequate insurance in place before your departure. This should be appropriate for your age, health and destination you are visiting.

• Make sure it includes comprehensive medical and repatriation cover.
• Make sure it provides cover for your whole trip (whether one day or over a year).
• Make sure it covers you for all activities.
• Disclose pre-existing medical conditions.
• Take your policy number and the 24-hour emergency contact numbers with you.

If you have any doubts about your cover, check with your insurer. Please note Covid-19 cover is now available.
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