Guendalisaà – crafting kinship

Mariela Adelma, photo: Eric Sebastian Mindling
Mariela Adelma, photo: Eric Sebastian Mindling

The region of Oaxaca in southern Mexico is one of the great craft cultures of the world, featuring fine embroidery, weaving, ceramics, wood carving, metalsmith and now glass.  Underlying this is a framework of Zapotec and Mixtec values.  The concept of guendalisaà (otherwise called tequio by some authors in this issue) means literally “crafting kinship” and is reflected in the elaborate ofrenda (altars) constructed for Dia de los Muertos which renew the ties with deceased relatives. To be a member of the community is to contribute to the many festivals that bring people together.

As with Persian culture, flowers are a creative inspiration for the Zapotec world. The word for poetry is diidxa’ guie’, or “flowery speech.” The spirits of the dead are guided to cemeteries along a path of sweet-smelling marigold petals, cempazuchitl. Garlands of frangipani, guie’ chaachi, adorn statues of saints carried in processions. And traditional clothing like the huipil is delicately embroidered with flowers.

As well as stories within Oaxaca, we also explore its connections across the Pacific. We follow the path of painter and historian Miguel Covarrubias who depicted the East from a Mexican perspective. This issue includes both those visitors who have brought back inspiration from Oaxaca and those who live there and sustain productive dialogues in the Asia Pacific. Articles such as Tessa Laird’s quarterly essay reflect the particular belief in nahual, or animal spirit. This lays the ground for the expanded dialogue around dragons for the upcoming China issue. While some are trying to build walls, our journey is revealing new and vibrant creative connections in the wider world.

The local Mexican editor for this issue is Valeria Florescano, an artist who works with jewellery and glass by drawing on the past to tell a story relevant to our time. Garland #12 is possible thanks to her dedication and the generosity of artists and writers in Oaxaca and beyond. We’re especially grateful to Manuela Pupu Cortes for her guidance. Thank you all for this guendalisaà. 


Quarterly essay


Beyond Oaxaca

Beyond Mexico

On parade


In the world

🇲🇽 – Spanish version available
🎓 – peer reviewed