Arts & Entertainment

Giant sawdust carpets line streets of central Mexican city to honor Virgin Mary

Tlaxcala, Mexico, Aug 15 (EFE).- Local artisans on Tuesday put the finishing touches on giant dyed sawdust tapetes (carpets) in Huamantla, a small city in central Mexico where this ephemeral art form is used to honor Our Lady of Charity.

Over one sleepless night that is part of the two-week Humantla Fair, the carpets are laid out between the evening of Aug. 14 and the morning of Aug. 15 as a means of expressing love and gratitude and offering petitions to the Virgin Mary.

Thousands of international tourists and visitors from throughout Mexico descend upon this city in Tlaxcala state for the fair and to observe the different stages involved in making the carpets.

The process entails using large molds or stencils that are placed onto an asphalt or concrete surface.

Those stencils are then filled in with dyed wood shavings to create spectacular symmetrical figures or designs in the shape of flowers, ears of corn or surface embroidery that appear to have been sewn onto the ground.

These carpets can measure up to 100 meters (330 feet) in length and three or four meters in width.

Although they are fleeting works of art, each carpet costs between around 40,000 pesos (more than $2,350) and 70,000 pesos.

One artisan, Victor Alonso Fernandez, told Efe that his family was responsible for decorating the street where they live.

He said they worked between 10 and 12 hours on a colorful carpet over which a procession containing an image of Our Lady of Charity will pass.

“After the (procession passes by), everything is swept up and we have to wait a year to place another one in honor of our mother,” Fernandez said.

He said the work is not completed in one night, but rather six months is needed to design the shape and size of the work and determine what material is required.

Luis Guillermo Huerta Medrano, another of the artisans, said he, his family and friends and other members of the work team make the carpet as an offering of thanks to the Virgin Mary for favors received and for the gifts of health and work.

“For us, it represents religion, which is Our Lady of Charity, on the ‘Night that no one sleeps,'” he said, adding that they make the carpet with love so she can pass by during her procession through the city. EFE


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