Yesterday was a beautiful bonanza!
One of my colleagues is an Anthropologist who travels regularly to Oaxaca, Mexico for her work. As many of you know, things are not all well in Oaxaca right now. The politics have gotten nasty and the everyday people are the ones who are suffering (sounds like a common story doesn't it?).
During her travels, my colleage has met and worked with Benito Hernandez and his family. They make beautiful hand made rugs. Mr. Hernandez shipped a number of these to my friend in the hope that she could sell them so he and his family could support themselves. A desperate situation for the family. Those of us here have had the good fortune to be able to buy rugs.
Behold, the beauty.
(these two are now living in my office and brightening the place up)
(these two are going home to live in our main hallway)
And the colors...
These photos do not do them justice!
The family dyes and weaves the rugs themselves using natural dyes, sheep's wool, and cotton.
The vibrant reds in the rugs come from cochineal (cactus lice). The female lice are essentially grown on cactus paddles and then harvested and dried. When crushed, they produce a very red dye. You can see pictures of Mr. Hernandez and this process below.
The white spots are the where the female lice are habitating.
This, I'm told, is the color that is obtained when a live female cactus lice is crushed.
The blues in the rugs are from indigo and the yellow from cumin/tumeric. I believe the family grows these as well.
Mr. Hernandez and his two sons dye and weave the rugs on treadle looms while the wife spins the wool.
I feel very lucky to have the privilege of owning several of the rugs, especially given all the time and effort that has clearly gone into each one of them.