Today was our first day of being official “tourists”. We went out with Jane and Nico, our guides, and five other people who are staying here at Casa Colonial. Today’s journey was to the north into the valley of Etla.
Sections of adobe wall are every where.
First we went to San Jose de Mogote to see some of the oldest structures in Oaxaca. There are mounds through out the village, most of them have not yet been excavated. The structures were built by the Zapotecs around 1300 BCE. This site predates the much more famous Monte Alban by about 1000 years.
This is not a mound or excavation, this is the new church in San Jose. Those are living plants in a bed built into floor of the aisle.
Here is one of the first areas to be excavated. It’s basically in someone’s backyard.
These steep steps go from the courtyard up to the buildings that are at the top. The stone is held together by cement.
On the other side of the mound are these porches.
The top hasn’t been excavated. You can see the outlines of the structures as you stand here. The view is of the rest of the Etla valley to San Augustine and to the right along the valley to the city of Oaxaca.
There is a small museum in San Jose that houses much of the material from the excavations. It was built in a couple of rooms of the old Hacienda. The Hacienda San Jose (or Hacienda Cacique) was one of the last haciendas to be abolished after the revolution.
This is one of the headdresses from the San Jose site.
This figure is the only prone figure from the Zapotec era that our guide knows of.
A little ways up the road from the courtyard and porches you can climb the hill and see where the ball court was. The Zapotecs played their own version of the bloody ball game that the Aztecs played in Mexico City.
San Augustine Etla is also known as Vista Hermosa. It sits on the mountain slopes and receives a lot of water from the springs above it. In the 1883 a cotton mill and generating plant were built here. The manufacturing stopped in the mid 20th century. Over the last 10 years Francisco Toledo has overseen it’s recreation as an arts center.
The purple color in the fountains at the front of the building was made by running water infused with cochineal over the steps for a couple of years. They used to be very red, now they are fading to purply-pink.
The interior of the center is two open floors of gallery and workshop space.
The building wasn’t the only thing that got attention. The grounds are wonderful. There is a system of linked shallow ponds that flow from the top of the site to the front.
From San Augstine Etla we went to see one of the most famous potters in the area. Irma Blanco is a recognized national treasure. She sat down and made a small statute of a market woman for us. It took her about 10 minutes. In this picture she’s just starting.
This is Irma’s kiln. She and her family fill it and then cover it with broken tiles. It is fired with wood.
This is one of her mermaids. She loves to add flowers to everything. The black clay dries to this light gray but it turns a light tan when it’s fired.