The National Museum of Popular Cultures opened the exhibition yesterday Tenangos: maps of memory, made up of 13 large-format canvases made with the cross-step technique that gives international renown to the artisans of Tenango de Doria, a town in Hidalgo, who have also seen how their work is plagiarized by fashion designers, publishers and fashion brands. food.
During the inauguration, Natalia Toledo, undersecretary of Cultural Diversity and Promotion of Reading of the federal Ministry of Culture (SC), regretted that Tenango de Doria is not known for its history, but for the plagiarism of which its community of embroiderers.
Tenango de Doria, said the official, is “the place of the walls; It was at one time a strategic site where different cultures lived and inhabit: Otomí, Nahuas, Totonacos. It is an area that reveals not only ethnic diversity, but also linguistic and cultural diversity. Tenango has been known not for the beautiful pre-Hispanic glyph that names it, projecting walls, battlements and circles, nor for the surname of Colonel Juan Crisóstomo Doria; Neither because of the burning of its church in 1816, during the war between the royalist army and the insurgent, nor because in the area known as El Estribo the Otomi defeated the French by throwing huge rocks at them from the top of the mountains.
Unfortunately, Tenango has been known internationally for the plagiarism it has suffered for its embroidery, living codices that keep the memory of the Hñáhñú people, and I mention some cases: the Hermès fashion house, in 2001; Nestlé, in 2015; Mango; Grandma Chocolates; the Spanish brand Desigual; Pottery Barn; Mexicana Yuya cosmetics; Alfaguara, by using the drawing of a tenango on a cover, and the most serious, Louis Vuitton. Carolina Herrera too. They call it cultural appropriation; the secretary sent a letter of exhortation and they removed the collections.
There is no defense of collective rights
The federal SC knows that the current legal framework protects individual rights and not collective rights, because, legally, there is no recognition of the collective subject of law, for this reason it considers that the participation of indigenous peoples and communities must be permanent in construction. of an alternative model for the protection of collective rights, added the poet and underlined: “The work of the SC involves actions of interinstitutional liaison and coordination with artisan communities, with civil society organizations, with academia and international organizations in the work of sensitization and awareness on the protection of collective rights.
We are working from the perspective of indigenous thought, through spells and proverbs that native peoples have regarding plagiarism, such as this spell by the Mazahua poet Francisco Antonio León Cuervo, it is our creative response to people who call themselves designers and only dedicate themselves to copying. and he has no talent.
The poem says: To the whiteflies that steal the snake skin / when we let it dry in the sun / may the text announce their decline before the other moon / may the kokobi penetrate their gaze until they are blinded / when he sees them march towards the valley of the dead / what if when the rains pass / they dare to return hidden / between the wings of the butterflies / their faces come without eyes / so that they cannot see the new tattoos / that cover our skin.
The embroiderer María Félix Delgadillo spoke of the magic of the colors and designs of the tenangos that adorn and enliven the spaces converted into curtains, tablecloths, bags, but, she pointed out: It is not fair to me that there are many coyotes that arrive and pay what they they want without valuing the effort of the people. We have been victims of plagiarism. There is a lot of ignorance and we have no choice but to start embroidering, and sometimes we almost give them away because they don’t pay us what they are really worth.
He recalled that his grandmother was one of the first to dedicate herself to embroidery, “and few people did it, but time went by and due to lack of resources, they all started dedicating themselves to the same thing.
In many places and countries, the Tenangos are recognized, but I would like them to value us, because it is a tiring and laborious job.
The exhibition Tenangos: maps of memory, whose works are part of the museum’s collection, can be visited from Tuesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the National Museum of Popular Cultures (Miguel Hidalgo 289, Colonia del Carmen, in Coyoacán).