The craft sector: a connection between past and present

reatas los mayorga
karen galvan juarez
Karen Galván Juárez

Latin America is a region with magnificent and dazzling cultural diversity; for example, Mexico, one of the nations that make up the region, is a country with an important and colorful cultural richness where the handicraft sector represents a connection with the past through the knowledge inherited from generation to generation and with the present through the resilience and adaptation of those who continue to transmit that knowledge. 

Crafts, in addition to being an example of this connection, are an important part of the culture of a place, since each piece or product represents the identity, traditions and worldview of a people. However, at present, unfavorable situations still exist for the handicraft sector as a result of the devaluation of the person (artisan) and his or her work (handicrafts). 

In addition to the above, sometimes the relevance of this cultural heritage is not reflected in the social, environmental and economic benefits for the people, their crafts and their environment; a situation that is present in places like Villa Progreso, a town of the Otomí people (Hñahñu) in Ezequiel Montes, Querétaro.

Ixtle, beyond the commercial aspect 

This site offers an attractive range of handicrafts made from ixtle (maguey fiber obtained by extracting the liquid from the stalk), which is weeded, dried in the sun. Once dried, it is rolled, weighed and stored. Afterwards, it is shredded, shredded and formed into wrappings that are used to make handicrafts; some of these examples are belts, flower pots, rugs, bags, reatas para lazar, sacks, pins, ayates, Christmas figures, as well as the famous bathroom scouring pads. 

reatas de lazar mayorga

Despite the above, there is still a barrier of discrimination by society towards artisan work, which contributes to the fact that artisans do not have recognition, economic development or even a better quality of life. Thus, the regenerative flow of culture can be interrupted because the value of this type of heritage is emphasized in the commercial-aesthetic aspect and, sometimes, the symbolic aspect is omitted. In this context, bargaining situations arise, as one of the craftswomen commented:

In bargaining I feel that my effort is not being valued, that it is being wasted, that it is not worth what I am doing, since not only is the price decreasing, but I also lose my hopes and dreams when I see that my work is not worth enough for the people who buy my handicrafts. On the other hand, industrialized products have been more recognized and remunerated compared to our work, which is totally handmade.

In this order of ideas, in Villa Progreso there are several workshops, among which are: "Ix Artte", focused on making decorative pieces and "Reatas Los Mayorga", who are dedicated to manufacture, mainly, reatas de lazar for charrería.


In the "Ix Artte" workshop, the artisans have adapted their space for tourist tours. It is important to mention that Mr. Mendoza, who is more than 86 years old, also participates in brief explanations of how this work began, as well as the elaboration of his handicrafts. In the same way, in the workshop of the Mayorga Family (Reatas los Mayorga) they have made tours in their own work space; it is worth mentioning that it is one of the places that still preserves the rustic and the elaboration of the reatas de lazar for charrería. 

The value of craftsmanship from a touristic point of view

According to the above, sustainable tourism can be a powerful tool that contributes to preserve, conserve and transmit this type of cultural heritage; for this it is important the responsible participation of the different social actors of tourism, who can interweave and recognize the value of handicrafts, in addition to making artisans visible in order to continue generating opportunities for the destinations that are dedicated to this trade. 

To learn more about the workshops visit their social networks:

Ix Artte:

Reatas los Mayorga:

*Graduated from Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro, Tequisquiapan Campus.