Josefina Jimenez, Teotitlan del Valle Oaxaca
Josefina Jimenez is the representative of D’ Gunna Ruy Che Lady, the organization of women weavers in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, who make Wondor Apparel’s Yoga Rugs. Teotitlan del Valle is one of the many Zapotec settlements in Oaxaca, a state in central Mexico. The Zapotec—whichs mean people of the clouds—have lived in the area for more than eight generations. Josefina describes Teotitlan del Valle as a sacred place—“the land of the gods, because here you breathe in pure air, there are mountains, and we enjoy all the nature surrounding our community.”
Josefina draws inspiration for her designs from her life, her heritage, and the surrounding landscape, she said—“by how we live in our day-to-day, and by all the teachings from our ancestors. Each design signifies a certain part of our lives.” For Josefina, the rugs are a labor of love and tradition. She makes them on a foot-powered loom, a trade she began learning from her mother at the age of 10. “When I was learning how to use the loom, I would dedicate between 2 to 3 hours a day when I came back from school,” she said. “Now, I dedicate between 5 to 7 hours a day.”
Depending on the size, each rug takes between 15 days to three weeks to make. The materials are naturally derived. For example, one dye originates in the flesh of a bug called cochineal, found on the nopal, or prickley pear cactus. The bug is dried and ground by hand on stone, combined with walnut shells and leaves, boiled over an open fire, and fermented for 15 days in clay pots. The result is a rich vermillion dye that takes the name of the bug from which it derives. Cochineal is used to color many Wondor Apparel Yoga Rugs.
Creating textiles such as these helps form an integral part of the economy for several women in Teotitlan del Valle, work that keeps them rooted in tradition while connecting them to international trade. “I like living here because it is very tranquil,” Josefina said of the valley. “My parents, my grandparents, and my ancestors lived here. For me, there is no other place where I could live with the same tranquility as I do in this community.”