Artisan Profile: Featured Folk Artist(s): Grupo Ben Tsam, Chiapas

featured folk artists

Simona Gómez López was raised and taught her art by her famous
aunt, the late Doña Juliana. Doña Juliana was the well-known creator of the famous Paloma (dove) of Amatenango del Valle and was the first woman who successfully departed from the traditional vessels made in that pueblo.

Doña Juliana passed away in 2015 at the age of 82, leaving her daughter and niece, Simona, to continue her tradition. Dona Juliana was honored with a statue at the entrance of San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas.

Simona continues the tradition started by her aunt and is known for her elegant traditional water jars and other vessels from Amatenango, Chiapas, as well as her palomas. She also makes planters in the shape of the pre-Hispanic Maya incense burners but with a contemporary twist.

Simona is working with a group called Ben Tsam (translation: Very Good) formed of women from her extended family and friends. When buying from Simona you are also helping 35 families earn a better living for themselves. The group makes palomas, jaguars and whatever other designs Simona teaches and has orders for.

Simona is quite a celebrity in her own right and was chosen to go to the Vatican Christmas 2015 with a group of other artisans to represent Chiapas. She and Governor Manuel Velasco Coello traveled there to present artesanía.

In 2016, thanks to the help of the Directorof Instituto Casa de las Artesanias de Chiapas and Fonart, a teacher and researcher from Mexico City, David Zimbrón, was invited to Amatenango to study the clay-sand mixture used by the group and make recommendations on how to improve the quality of the local ceramics.

At the same time, another teacher was teaching new designs–such as whimsical jaguars and pots and the use of acrylic and natural paints. How wonderful that these women have learned new techniques to improve the quality of their work. These items will be for sale at the Feria to benefit the women of the Ben Tsam group. Come to the Feria!

Contact Information:
20 de Noviembre S/N
Esquina con Calle Las Casas, El Centro
Amatenango del Valle, Chiapas
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