Fave Sancris books

Academia, background, Book, Mexico, Sancris en Colores

Just because I’m publishing a colouring book doesn’t mean that it doesn’t come with references!

I’ve found in-depth background for my drawings in these excellent books. (You can find many of them at the bookshop La Cosecha.)

Aubry, Andrés: San Cristóbal de las Casas. Su historia urbana, demográfica y monumental 1528-1990.

Segunda edición, Colectivo Bats’il K’op, San Cristóbal de las Casas 2017. This is a masterpiece about Sancris, covering the city’s history through its architecture, using poetic language and solid sources. Although it doesn’t try to entertain it often does, with anecdotes like the fine ladies’ church strike when the Bishop tried to stop them drinking hot chocolate during Mass. I used it for points about the orientation of the town, San Nicolás being the church of the black residents, the eggs in the stucco of the Cathedral, and la Merced (including the detail about the disturbing-sounding institution for detaining “obstreperous women” that was run on the square in the 1700s.) A lot of the decisions taken here at the city’s initial founding are still relevant today, such as the orgins and crafts of the different barrios. Since Sancris is an old, colonial city (only the second founded by the Spaniards in the Americas) we tend to look around the pretty centre and think that this is what it’s always looked like. But Aubry writes about things like the shifts in colour from the mudejar (Moorish) to the Neoclassical styles, reminding us that nothing is immutable.

Morris, Walter F; Martínez, Alfredo; Schwartz, Janet & Karasik, Carol: Guía Textil de los Altos de Chiapas, A Textile Guide to the Highlands of Chiapas.

Segunda edición, CONACULTA y Na Bolom, Ciudad de México y San Cristóbal de las Casas 2014. This photo-packed book charts the different local indigenous weaving styles with a tongue-in-cheek commentary that comes from real earned insider knowledge. I especially enjoyed the tidbit about the cardigan being introduced to Chamula by evangelican fanatics trying to bribe their way into peoples’ faiths. I used the book for the information about the embroidery from Zinacantán. Morris et al tell us that the striking Zinacanteco flower embroidery was inspired by Guatemalan refugees who came through in the 1970s. Again, you look at something that looks traditional and assume it’s always been that way… The flower designs on the Zinacantan family’s clothes in the colouring book are my own improvisations.

Guess, Virginia Ann: Spirit of Chiapas: the Expressive Art of the Roof Cross Tradition.

Museum of New Mexico Press, Santa Fe, 2004. I came across this scholarly book in Oaxaca and bought it for big money. Guess does a great job of cataloguing San Cris’ roof crosses and talking to their owners and blacksmiths about them, but she doesn’t actually manage to get to the root of where they came from and what they mean.

Montaña Barbano, María M., Huicochea Gómez, Laura, & Mejía Lozada, Diana (2015). Being “coleto”: plants inside the houses of “El Cerrillo”, San Cristóbal de las Casas, Mexico.

Culturales, 3(2), 181-207. Instituto de Investigaciones Culturales-Museo, Mexicali Here’s an article about Coleta women talking about their houseplants. Coletos is a name for the locals, but it’s fraught with meaning: it refers to the dominant class who’ve lived in San Cristóbal for centuries and claim Spanish ancestry. When the Zapatista rebellion took San Cristóbal in 1994, three civil society movements arose in response: two in favour, and the grouping los Auténticos Coletos, against. Our other neighbours are known as Sancristobalenses, meaning locals who don’t consider themselves coletos, and foraneos, or “outsiders” like me who come from other parts of Mexico and the world. The article about the plants also gives insights into how traditional houses are organised, with their central patio for decorative flowers and their backyard “sitio” for urban farming – and how the subdivision of houses as families grow makes this trickier.
Aubry, Andres; Guess, Virginia Ann; Morris et al; Zebadua, Emilio. Zapantera Negra, afromexicanos, textiles de los Altos de Chiapas

I haven’t read these other books yet but they are very intriguing. Zapantera Negra contains stories by Black Panthers who have visited the Zapatistas in solidarity – the urban-rural clash came out very vividly in one of the testimonies I read, with the aged Black Panther being expected to ford streams and balance on narrow mountain paths. ¿Dónde Están? or Where Are They? is about Afromexicans.
You can buy the PDF print-at-home version of the whole colouring book on my Gumroad page.

New colouring book!

Book, Colouring-in, Mexico, Publication, Sancris en Colores, Street scene, Värityskuvat

For the past three years I’ve been chipping away at a little project of mine: a colouring book featuring street scenes from San Cristóbal de las Casas in Mexico, the picturesque town I live in. There’s so much detail and colour going on that it’s hard to take much in while we stroll around… apple blossoms peeking over a wall; a house painted in turquoise and peach; Chamula women’s blouse embroidery fashions; a courtyard from the 1500s; a garage opened to sell multicoloured pastries; the breakdance crew at La Merced; street dogs rolled up to sleep; the spectacular piercings of an Argentinian hippie.

With this colouring book, I want to give us fans of Sancris a chance to sit down and contemplate it, one scene at a time. And here we can finally paint a house in magenta and purple.

I’ll be distributing in independent bookshops in Sancris. You can also buy the PDF print-at-home version of the whole colouring book here on my Gumroad page.

Sketch of the day: Tenejapa carnival

croquis, Events, Mexico, Sketch

The week-long carnival in Tenejapa in the Chiapas highlands includes several colorful elements, such as this “chasing of the cow”. The men dress in red ceremonial finery and, among other things, chase a woven-mat “cow” around the town plaza. (Later there’s “chasing the bull” at another plaza, looking exactly the same as “chasing the cow”, but at that event cameras aren’t welcome… so I figured sketchpads aren’t either). It’s a day full of symbolism and prehispanic references and local pride – also lost of whooping at jokes. It’s very contagious and after we left we spent the rest of the day going “i-e-e-e!!”

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Special costume including a stuffed ocelot.

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Even though he was standing still it was hard to get all the textile detailes!

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The procession’s drummer.

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The “cow”!

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Ocelot man from another angle.