"Full of vigor, color and atmosphere, the Mexican market is a very ancient institution dating back to before the Spanish Conquest in 1521. The Spaniards recorded many vivid descriptions including that of Friar Diego Durán. Determined to propagate the Christian faith, he deplored with wry humor the fascination of the market place. 'I think that if I were to say to one of the Indian women who love to wander around the markets, Listen, today is market day in such and such a place. Which will you choose, to go straight to heaven or to go to the market? I suspect she would say, Let me first see the market, and after that I will go to heaven.'"  Chloë Sayer, Crafts of Mexico.

"Mexico is a land of handicrafts where men and women create the objects that they use every day, and where beauty is as important as utility...To study the handicrafts of Mexico is to come to know its people, to see them at work, at play, in the home and in the market place...Country markets (in rural Mexico) are the social and economic pulse of a region. Friends meet to exchange news and gossip. Women from weaving villages sell rebozos and skirt lengths, going home with water storage jars and clay griddles, called comals."

The markets of today's Mexico have great connections to those of the past. They continue to be a gathering place for neighbors from towns within the region to gather weekly or sometimes monthly or annually to share news and exchange and sell goods. It is one of the great experiences of traveling to Mexico to see the mercado in action. Here are a few (there are literally hundreds of markets occurring on different days of the week) that are especially well known and fun to see. You will still have to dig to find the unique piece because there are hundreds of booths which sell radios, cds, stuffed animals, stuff from China and numerous other junky junks from around the globe. But here are are few to get you started:

Oaxaca: Every Sunday in Tlacolula, a town outside of Oaxaca City
Patzcuaro, Michoacán: Day of the Dead Market, annually, the week before Muertos (Nov 1-2)
Uruapan, Michoacán: Semana Santa Market, annually, the week before Easter
Taxco: Every Saturday

Here's a really complete guide to Mexican mercados with tons of info for you to sift through! If you're interested in food markets, here's a great start to the pleasures of those. And you can always shop online at Zinnia Folk Arts!


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