Oaxaca Red Trunk

Red Trunk Project

The State of Oaxaca has the largest indigenous population in Mexico with fifty percent of the population still speaking their native languages. There are sixteen ethnic groups in Oaxaca today. In addition to distinctive languages, which are not mutually intelligible, each group has its own customs, social and religious organization as well as distinctive material culture, such as traditional clothing.

The principal ethno-linguistic group of the Oaxaca Valley is the Zapotec civilization, one of the earliest pre-Hispanic cultures in Mesoamerica. This group was followed by the Mixtec culture. A number of important and well-known archaeological sites are found in the Oaxaca Valley, including Monte Alban, Mitla, San José Mogote and Yagul.

The Oaxaca Red Trunk is filled with more than 60 objects representing the material culture of the State of Oaxaca, Mexico. They come from one of the eight geographic regions of Oaxaca, the Valles Centrales, the Central Valleys, where the state capital Oaxaca de Juarez (“Oaxaca City”) is located.

Painted ceramic skull. The bright colors symbolize life after death.

Clay flauta. Musical instruments may appear to be toys, but they are actually used in indigenous music and have been since pre-Hispanic times.

Billetes y Monedas. Mexican paper money and coins. Mexico’s currency is the Mexican Peso. The peso is sub-divided into 100 cents (centavos). The symbol for the Mexican Peso is $, the same as an American dollar sign. To distinguish this from the US Dollar, you sometimes see it presented as MXN.

Jícara. Hollowed out dried gourds, usually used as bowls and as a unit of measurement.

Molcajete and tejolote, Hand-carved stone mortar and pestle.

Mandil. An apron is part of the daily attire of many Mexican women, indigenous and Mestizo. Some cover the top and others are just waist down.

Chapulines. Grasshoppers. This source of protein, caught in a town just outside of Oaxaca City, has been part of the Zapotec diet since pre-Colombian times. During the season, giant nets are spread in fields where they breed. When the grasshoppers are startled and fly up, they are caught in the nets. In cages, they are toasted with salt and dried chile and eaten as snacks or rolled into a fresh corn tortilla.

Along with the physical artifacts, the Oaxaca Red Trunk also contains 16 short ‘mini-docs’, videos that help introduce and contextualize elements of the Oaxaca culture, each about five minutes long.

  • Introduction To Oaxaca
  • Parade
  • Dancing
  • Pottery
  • Spanish
  • Stone Cutter
  • Clay
  • Mole
  • Dyeing
  • Dance Lesson
  • Alebrijes
  • Chocolate
  • Toys and Games
  • School Life
  • Home Life
  • Music

Each trunk will come with 3 Google Cardboard headsets so students can view 5 short (2-minute) 360-VR movies of Oaxaca.

  • Intro to Oaxaca
  • Home Life
  • School Life
  • Streets of Oaxaca
  • Markets of Oaxaca

Check out this video on your computer to get a sample overview of our 360-degree VR Oaxaca footage: https://vimeo.com/301713005.

Check out this video on a VR headset to get a sample overview of our 360-degree VR Oaxaca footage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCzXGzypOHI.