Historically, the state of Chiapas has stood out for the machismo that prevails in its indigenous communities and peoplesHowever, in some municipalities in the Altos el area migration phenomenon has allowed contexts to change radically.
Now, it is women who have taken the household control and economic activity, since many of the men have gone out in search of fulfilling the so-called American dream and improving the living conditions of their families.
This scenario is experienced in the municipality of Amatenango del Valle, where women lead the family support through the making clay crafts, which over the years have sought different routes to market their products, but have also opened the doors for this profession to men.
One is born with mud in the veins
Juan Pedro López López, is a 30-year-old young man, Industrial Engineering study But for as long as he can remember, his family has dedicated themselves to making clay pieces.
He relates that he was 12 years old when he had his first contact with this craft, since upon returning from school he observed that his family was working in this type of art, which caught his attention and little by little he began to get involved.
"One is born in the veins with the mud, so little by little we are only going to need training, for example I come acquiring this knowledge ancestral from generation to generation and there comes a time when this interest is also born in us and this interest has led me a lot to meet people who are very appreciative of my work and that's how things happen," he explained.
When he traveled to a city, he claims that he saw the crafts and techniques that were implemented, but above all the toys, which due to the lack of money to acquire them, on his return home he replicated those attractions in pieces of clay, which at first did not take the shape of what he imagined, but little by little He was professionalizing his art.
I agree with you customs and habits, In the Tzeltal municipality of Amatenango del Valle, pottery is a exclusive activity of women, so Juan had to wait a couple of years to be allowed to develop his talent and at the same time consolidate his own workshop, where every day he is inspired to innovate and create everything from jaguars to pots and pans. pots.
“Little by little, the men are beginning to get involved, to support and polish the clay, to polish the pieces, but right now here in the town there is no longer a gender distinction with clay, although the majority are still women, but now little by little they are updating themselves or expressing themselves with the clay,” he points out.
The main factor that generated the opportunity For men it was the economy, because they were previously dedicated to agriculture but the profits were not stable, otherwise with pottery, where the work is better paid and recognized.
For Juan, his inspiration is based on customer satisfaction, The smile and expression generated by his clay pieces encourage him to continue building new models, since he affirms the transformation of clay into a work of art is a way of giving life to Mother Earth and at the same time having a connection with the worldview of his people, a situation that has allowed him to participate in competitions at the state and national level.
“I participated in the first contest when I was 17 years old and my piece was sold. Since then I became more inspired so that next year I would participate again.
"It was very exciting because seeing that my piece was sold, next year I will participate again and little by little I will start obtaining third place, second place, first places here in the state, but we also have first places," he explains.
Despite the awareness that has been raised organizations To avoid haggling, artisans continue to suffer from this situation, which they regret since they dedicate an average of between 10 and 12 hours of work daily.
“Unfortunately we still have that situation because when we do a job they tell us that they find it cheaper, but really we in the workshop are already working, we have been working a lot making our continuous improvements, right now we are working with the wood oven without smoke that is a Japanese design and is allowing us to reach higher temperaturesso that means that we are giving better quality so that the pieces are more compact,” he explains.
Despite the contexts of insecurity and economic crisis faced by the people and indigenous communities of Chiapas, The artisans trust that this craft will continue to be transmitted as before from generation to generation, to shape their daily lives and preserve its history, just as their ancestors did.