Patzcuaro is a magical spot for people seeking arts & crafts. A walk around the square, market and surrounding streets brings the visitor past many stores selling practically everything imaginable from the wonderful hand carved wooden statues and furniture as well, to beautifully hand painted accents that depict animals and flowers. You’ll also see many mounds of woven textiles that consist of drapes, bed spreads, table cloths and of course napkins along with many wooden figurines that are studded with Milagros.
Lets not forget to mention the many small statues and figures of the Virgin Mary and various other religious items. Plus, there are numerous clay pots and plaques along with many very detailed and polished wooden boxes, guitars, wooden picture frames, wool blankets and quite a few copper vases and plates. Also, there were many baskets and items made of reed & straw that have been hand woven along with beautifully scented and sculpted candles.
One thing of interest to me are the Catrina dolls, which you can see below. You see, Catrinas are the funny way in which Mexicans look at death. You will see the Catrina on the left is holding a beautiful bouquet of marigolds, which is another Mexican symbol for death. But, you will notice that both of the ladies are wearing wonderful Robozo which are truly loved by the women of Mexico.
If you’re serious about looking at everything Patzcuaro has to offer in the way of a delightful shopping spree, you’ll have to park your car, if you have one, put on some sturdy walking shoes and take yourself out onto the streets on foot. Otherwise you’ll surely miss the best of what shopping for arts and crafts in Patzcuaro is all about.
Under the arches around the Plaza de Don Vasco de Quiroga, Patzcuaro’s main square, are series of shops, often only a few feet wide but extending back into the bowels of the colonial buildings that face the square, piled with treasures. Duck into the entrances and scout out their depths.
The labyrinth of the Casa de los Once Patios (House of Eleven Patios) holds crafts workshops galore – metal, textiles, wood and much more – as does the Palacio de Huitzimengari. Some local stores handle Milagro studded crosses and other figures, and outside the Basilica itself are numerous stands of crafts, where one can purchase the small Milagros loosely and often in bulk as well.
On the road to the Embarcadero – the pier from where the boats leave to the island of Janitzio on Lake Patzcuaro – is another stretch of workshops and outlets offering larger piece of carved and painted wooden furniture and elaborate columns and larger pieces for use in any size home. Many of these also specialize in religious wooden statuary and here you can find unusual renderings of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the Christ figure and crucifixes.
Although most of the shops around the square have fairly fixed prices on their items, many of the outlets in places like the Embarcadero area and outlying areas of towns such as Tzintzuntzan, expect the purchaser to strike a deal with the vendor and haggle a bit, especially if purchasing several items at a time.
Right at the embarcadero are yet more small shops with mementos of Janitzio and the lake, but of a more commercial nature – one wonders why these spots resort to selling tacky, plastic souvenirs when there’s such a wealth of traditional handcrafted items to choose from…
A walk or drive along the Avenida de las Americas will take you past several stores selling wool items, sweaters, blankets and shawls. The market right off Plaza Gertrudis Bocanegra (the smaller of the two principal squares in town) carry wool goods as well as smaller wooden kitchen items and some pottery, copper and straw items in addition to the fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and fish as well.
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