Week 26 – Elena Gonzalez Ruiz


Elena’s family and the weaving traditions of her village of Teotitlan de Valle were the subject of my very first post here on WordPress!

Check it out here in my  post entitled  Inspiring C*O*L*O*R, published March 21st, 2012.


Elena Gonzalez Ruiz, master Zapotec weaver from Teotitlan del Valle,Oaxaca, Mexico. Blue hands come from the indigo dye, derived from a fermented plant.

Who:  Elena Gonzalez Ruiz

What: Master rug weaver, business woman and educator

Where: Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico

Why:  Elena has been my dear friend for over 16 years. Not only does she feel like a sister, but her family welcomed me into their home during the most difficult time in my life.

I first visited her village for Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) a mere two weeks after my own father had passed away suddenly from a massive heart attack fifteen years ago.  Not only was the trip life changing, but it gave me a healing  framework to work through my grief. What seemed like a loud, crazy Halloween tradition was actually an incredibly humble way to honor ancestors who have left this world.

Hailing from a traditional Zapotec village in the picturesque valley outside of Oaxaca city, Elena’s family has been using only natural dyes derived from plants, animals, and minerals in their rug weaving for over 2500 years. Not only does the longevity of the craft show the depth of the weaver’s mastery, but it also shows a profoundly sustainable process that respects the land while honoring ancestors at the same time.

One of the strongest women I know, Elena and her family have taught me so much about the bonds that bind us, no matter what our cultural background, and that family can be created with those we choose.

Watch for an upcoming post documenting my recent trip to Sun Valley Idaho with Elena and her nephew Juan Carlos for the Trailing of the Sheep Festival, and the epic Pacific Northwest roadtrip that followed.

Happy Tuesday folks, and may it be one of deep connections.



2 thoughts on “Week 26 – Elena Gonzalez Ruiz

  1. A very special and lovely post, Melissa! Thank you so much for sharing this with us, it´s a lovely sketch of a, I´m sure of it, wonderful woman and your writings about her and her family are just beautiful. Weaving is such a great art and I´m glad the tradition is not lost to mere mechanical plants etc. I´m so glad you found a friend in Elena in that hard time you had. Wish you a beautiful wee, dear friend! xxxxx

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