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Go West

Go West

Our latest collection of bags is inspired by the spirit, natural landscapes, and legacy of America's West.

In order to capture the rough natural beauty of the West, we pulled the color palette from its vast landscapes. Pine green hailing from the Rocky Mountains, the rich red of Arizona's rock formations, golden hues from the great plains, and the sacred turquoise stone native to New Mexico.

Beyond the visuals and colors inspired by the West's incredible natural beauty, we wanted to evoke the spirit of the west. From the ancient wisdom of living in harmony with nature exemplified by the indigenous people of this land, to the opportunity and adventure it represented to the pioneers, there is a rich history and lore contained in the western plains, deserts and mountains. 

To articulate the spirit of adventure and opportunity embodied in this land, we wanted to explore fresh ways to combine the traditional Zapotec designs that MZ in known for. The design process is collaboration between the MZ master artisans and Sam, our Product Design Director. 

"We generally begin by discussing technical issues on how to execute the color palette with their dyeing abilities. We then sketch some designs together and pick out different design elements we want to include. I'll map out the designs on illustrator and the weavers bring those to life when weaving the samples," said Sam. 

"It's a balance between creating fresh designs with new technology, while allowing the artisans to have significant input in the design process."

The result of this process is our latest collection, "Go West," which includes 11 unique bags destined to capture your heart and imagination. We love how these bold pieces can add some heat to your winter wardrobe and spur some energy and inspiration on a gray day. Style them with classic jeans, simple button ups, and fun accessories like cowgirl boots, bolo ties and bandanas to complete the western look! 

CHECK OUT THE FULL COLLECTION!

Oaxacan Holiday Punch Recipe

Oaxacan Holiday Punch Recipe

Nothing spreads holiday cheer quite like a hot beverage in good company. In Oaxaca the drink of choice for the holiday season is a traditional ponche, a hot fruit punch. Ponche  thas variations but is typically made with a mix of apples, guavas, tejocote fruit (a crab apple-like stone fruit from the Hawthorne family) and raisins, spiced with cinnamon and sweetened with raw sugar cane. 

While Mexico is often considered to have a hot climate, the highlands of Oaxaca can be quite chill in the winter months. This warming drink is ideal for the colder season, and takes advantage of the local seasonal fruit. In addition to lending its sweet and tart flavor to the mix, the tejocote fruit contains Vitamin A, C, antioxidants, and carotenoids, which all have immune-boosting properties. 

Until 2009 tejocote was extremely difficult to get north of the border, since it was not allowed to be imported for fear of bringing insects along with it that could potentially harm US crops. The demand for the fruit however, led to tejocote becoming the most smuggled fruit on the US-Mexico border during this time! In 2009 farmers in California began cultivating tejocote locally, and now this highly desired fruit can be found across the US, specifically at Latino grocery stores.

Isabel, a dear friend of MZ, who runs a successful restaurant out of her home in Teotitlan del Valle, taught us her ponche recipe! This drink be made for the entire party, fruity for the kids and with a splash of mezcal for the grown ups. We think it would also be good spiked with spiced rum, but don't tell Isabel you heard it from us! Watch the video to learn from the maestra herself.

This holiday season, why not skip the apple cider and try your hand at making your own Oaxacan-style ponche? ¡Salud!

 

Celebrating Christmas - the Zapotec Way!

Celebrating Christmas - the Zapotec Way!

While many people the world over celebrate Christmas, the traditions vary from place to place. With the holiday season in full swing, we’ve enjoyed learning about the traditions that are unique to the Zapotec communities of Oaxaca. We chatted with MZ artisans Jose Luis and Maria Luisa Santiago to learn more about how their family celebrates the holiday.

Similarly to the US, in Teotitlan del Valle (where the majority of the large Santiago family lives), Christmas is a religious holiday for some, and more of a cultural tradition for others. Jose Luis explained, “Some families fast on Christmas Eve, and then come together to break the fast on Christmas morning. While many go to church, others don’t because it isn’t important to them.”

The Zapotec people primarily practice a unique sort of Catholicism that is infused with their indigenous beliefs. An example of this would be the tradition of pedimentos - or petitions - that sees individuals and families bringing objects or figurines to the church to petition God for their wishes granted. “People will bring small houses if they want a new home, or little animals to ask for more chickens or sheep. Lot of people bring tiny dolls as a way of asking God to give them a family,” said Maria Luisa.

Another Christmas tradition in the village are the posadas - or holiday parties - that begin in early December.  These large parties are typically hosted by a family who opens their home to the entire town! Posadas are celebrations to commemorate the Virgin Mary, and the birth of Christ. Children with candles sing a song that tell the biblical story of Mary and Joseph seeking shelter for the birth of their child. These festivities are filled with food (enough to feed the village), atole (a hot beverage made of corn and spices), Christmas piñatas made with seven spikes to represent the seven deadly sins, games to play, and lots of noisy fireworks.

The Santiago family has their own way of celebrating that is unique to their family. On Christmas Eve everyone gets together at one of their houses; they take turns hosting each year. Each family brings a dish to contribute to the potluck-style feast. 

Maria Luisa described the Christmas Eve meal: “For dinner we make guajolote, which is like a turkey but a little bit smaller. We have the traditional drink called ponche, which is hot punch made with apples, guavas, hibiscus, cinnamon and natural sugar. And of course we have mezcal, it wouldn’t be a celebration without the mezcal! It is a very joyous party for everyone because all of the family comes together. There is not necessarily a gift exchange, what is more important is that we are all together. We dance, sing, and eat!”

We love the emphasis on togetherness that Maria Luisa describes, and getting to learn about the distinct celebrations for a familiar holiday. What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?

¡Feliz Navidad!