Here at The Ecology Center we are inspired by nature’s perfect design- where there is no waste, and everything is regenerative. As we set out to model what our ideal looks like, we’ve identified small-scale production as one solution for regenerative/sustainable production. Can you speak to this point as a hand-weaver and natural dyer? How does your culture and community in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca influence your approach to design?
Samuel Bautista Lazo of Dixza Rugs & Organic Farm: I grew up in the culture of the Dixzaà people (Zapotecs) of Oaxaca. We have inherited over 20,000 years of knowledge about how to live in harmony on this land – since our first ancestors arrived here after the last little ice age. Our ancestors have been foraging for food, medicine and art materials on this land for a very long time and that knowledge has been passed from generation to generation in spite of the natural struggles and historical brutal oppression.
A lot of our processes are community driven; not only does the know-how resides within the community but the specialists needed are trained by members of the community. I believe this is why Zapotec weavers rarely sign their artworks; the knowledge that went into making the rug belongs to the community.
With regards to patterns and symbols; these have been evolving throughout our cultural history; most of the traditional symbols and patterns have passed the test of time and have remained unchanged for thousands of years.
We produce a pallet of colors according to nature’s seasons and availability. We let our weavers (friends and relatives) decide on how to play with the colors on the loom and create their own piece given what it is available at the time that weaving begins. We could say that from start to finish of the making of our rugs there is always a thread that weaves us into nature’s choice.
This is a question that definitely rings a bell home. First because as a weaver in the Benizaa (Zapotec) community of Teotitlan del Valle (Xiguie’a) we already had a small scale regenerative production system to produce textiles, mainly rugs. This system got affected by a huge market demand for our products in the 80’s but it is slowly returning back to its roots and becoming more sustainable.
Focusing on waste is a great way to see where improvements can be made. I believe that all materials are “precious materials” and once we extract them from the earth’s systems we should do our utmost as not to waste them. I am so convinced of this that I dedicated my Ph.D. research on Sustainable manufacturing on this objective. In this link you can read my suggestions for how the industry should approach industrial waste to turn it into profitable co-products.
Being a hand weaver and natural dyer have given me great insight into how a regenerative/sustainable production system should look like. Our rugs are traditionally made with benign and safe materials to handle during production and to use during its life cycle. This natural materials return safely to the earth’s system at the end of their life cycle; for rugs that can last several generations composting them or using them as mulch is a great way to return them to nature.
I believe that the more we look at nature for inspiration and the more we look back at the ancient wisdom of our ancestral lineage the more informed we will be about how we want to reshape our current production and consumption system.
To learn more about Sam’s family farm and Airbnb, workshops and more, click here.