Nuevo Casas Grandes Travel Guide

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El Cybernetico

El Cybernetico

Ivan Cardenas

A pleasant small city located in Chihuahua. The two main reasons to visit relate to nearby locations, however: the precolumbian ruins of Paquimé, and the small village of Mata Ortiz, the home of Juan Quezada, Mexico's most honored potter.

Paquimé reached its apogee in the 14th and 15th centuries, played a key role in trade and cultural contacts between the Pueblo culture of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico and the more advanced civilizations of Mesoamerica. The extensive remains, only part of which have been excavated, are clear evidence of the vitality of a culture which was perfectly adapted to its physical and economic environment, but which suddenly vanished at the time of the Spanish Conquest. An ambitious museum on site orients visitors to Paquimé's history and importance.

Mata Ortiz, a bustling lumber milling town in the 1800s, became quiescent and poor after the Mexican Revolution, only to reawaken in recent years due to activity stemming from the artistry of one man, Juan Quezada. In his youth, Juan was struck by the delicate beauty of ancient painted pots he found in a cave in the rugged hills not far from his village. Through a long process of trial and error, he eventually managed to achieve and even surpass the work of his forebears, always using only local materials, and without encumbrance of the potter's wheel. Spencer MacCallum, an American anthropologist, came across three of Juan's unsigned pots that had made their way to a swap shop in Deming, New Mexico, through great effort traced their origin, met the master who had created them, and set out to make his artistry known to the world. Today, some thirty years later, Quezada is internationally known, and under his training several other residents of Mata Ortiz have developed into master artisans. Each has developed his or her own style of color, shape, and finish, while remaining true to the use of local materials and shunning the wheel. The result is varied artistry of the highest level. Visitors to Mata Ortiz can purchase these objets d'art from the artisans themselves.

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