1939 — 2022
Cecilia Bautista Caballero Ahuiran, Michoacán
Bertha Estrada Huipi, was born in 1939 and raised in Ahuiran, Michoacan, a small Purepechan town known for its hand-woven rebozos made on back strap looms. This tradition goes back in the town's history and Bertha knows that her mother made rebozos as she started teaching her when she was about 11 years old. She says that her grandmother, great grandmother and even farther back were weavers. She says it goes back six generations. When Bertha married, Cecilia Bautista Caballero's son, Cesar, she taught Bertha additional techniques beginning at about age 18. Cecilia taught her how to make exquisite decorative rebozos including those with feathers, natural dyes, flower designs with articela and other designs.
Bertha has 3 sons, Mateo, 31, Pedro, 30 and Cesar, 21. In addition, she cares for Cecilia's son, Juanito, who is 19. All of her sons and daughters-in-law and Juanito know at least some part of making rebozos. They all work in a small workshop located in Bertha's home.
Bertha's parents are still alive, but live in another home. She has 3 grandchildren, but 2 of them are still too young to learn her art. But, the 9-year-old helps out and she says she wants to learn to make rebozos, too. However, her main job is to go to school for now!
Sadly, Bertha's mother-in-law, Cecilia, was scheduled to attend the Feria Maestros del Arte with Bertha this year, but Cecilia died this summer of 2022. Cecilia has been honored for years by many important entities including the Banamex foundation as she was named a Great Master and received many other honors and travelled in the US and Latin America over the years representing Mexico. However, Cecilia's tradition lives on through her family members. Bertha has been coming to the Feria with Cecilia every time she was invited. I asked Bertha what she remembers about Cecilia other than the important teaching she provided her throughout the years. She laughed and said, she remembers Cecilia teaching her how to be a good sales person. She told her that she had to be on her toes and very friendly. Since Bertha is a bit shy, she learned through Cecilia's example. She said sometimes when a pirekuas (Purepechan music) or other Mexican music was playing, she would begin to dance and she would make her dance, too! Bertha laughed as she reminisced about Cecilia and is still sad about her loss, but thankful for the 30-plus years of teachings and opportunities that Cecilia generously gave to her and her family. She said they were a great team and she is eternally grateful to her mother-in-law. Bertha is still sad, but she says she knows that Cecilia will live in her heart forever.
Bertha's son, Mateo, has been working to help make rebozos since he was 15-years old. He is married to Isabel Hernandez Ramos and they all work together with Bertha in the family workshop. Their little 3-year-old daughter is still too young to learn, but no doubt she will in the future.
Bertha has also reaped many awards on her own throughout her life including national, state and local honors of everything from 1st, 2nd and 3rd places as well as "special" awards including a 1st place award from Fonart for a plain rebozo that was "punta fina", that is a very finely made rebozo with thin thread. She has also won awards for decorated rebozos with flowers and more. She also has entered and won awards for making miniature rebozos for dolls!
In summary, Bertha and her family are dedicated to the great tradition of making rebozos that, in particular, represent the Purepechan culture of Michoacan. Their rebozos not only reflect tradition, but also originality with some of their own designs, each with its own character and made appropriately for a variety of
traditions and occasions. There will be a photo of Cecilia at Bertha's booth and an exhibit of one of Cecilia's rebozos. They hope to make a small museum with her work in Ahuiran in the future.
Miguel Hidalgo #212
5 de Mayo #6
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