Miniature Palm Figures and Accessories
The Acevedos are a family of Indians working with woven raffia palm - mainly accessories and decorative items. Inspired by traditional objects, they add their special touches of imagination and fine detail to make their wonderfully whimsical creations. Their cultural heritage is Mixteco and they are from San Miguel located in the municipality of Silacayoapan, Oaxaca - the Mixteca region that includes portions of the states of Puebla, Guerrero and Oaxaca and in the Mixtec language is called Javi Ñuu which means place of rain or land of rain.
Due to the difficulties arising in this region due to drought and low sources of employment, many Mixtecos migrated to different parts of Mexico. The Acevedos were part of this migration and have lived in Guadalajara for the last 25 years.
The palm techniques used by the Acevedos were taught to them by their ancestors. They have been working in this art medium for 8 years in order to promote and to learn more about their culture. They are self-employed and through their art have improved their economic situation while at the same time helping to preserve old traditions. They are also able to help others who work with them in gathering the raw materials needed. They use real palm and not synthetic material as some weavers do.
Craftspeople have been weaving palm since before the Spanish Conquest, but over the past forty years that art has become more finely tuned and has won national acceptance in the marketplace as nostalgic recreations of Mexico's indigenous past. The Acevedos work in a communal labor group or cooperativa (cooperative) - called Artesanías Zani - as is their Indian custom sharing with each other ideas, labor, raw materials, etc. The older artisans already appreciate this craft and joyfully pass it along to the next generation.
Miniatures are the "little toys" that adults give more thought to than do children. They have always appealed to the child in all of us. Factors such as tourism and the construction of national identity have contributed to an ongoing demand for the tiny creations. The playfulness of the craft is often in sharp contrast to the often harsh economic realities of life in the community where they are made. As palm weavers, the Acevods create different styles of miniaturized human figures, birds, plants and animals. Particularly striking are the compositions such as nativity scenes, musicians playing instruments in a bandstand, or scenes of work such as a man pushing a wheelbarrow and a man harvesting juice from a maguey plant to make pulque.
Despite words such as "folk" and "Indian" being used to describe this handicraft, there are misperceptions of how complex they are to make. Carefully woven, these miniatures can take days to complete just one depending on its complexity.