Poked

Pita, also known as ixtle, is a terrestrial bromeliad of thorny leaves that is found in the wild in high forest areas, particularly in humid places, near streams, rivers or floodplains, and between 100 and 700 meters above sea level (De los Santos, 1996). Due to its shape similar to that of an agave, it is also called in Mexico maguey de pita. Although the commonly reported species is Aechmea magdalenae, there are likely to be other uses for the same use.

The pita fiber is from many exceptional points of view. Its dimensions, brightness, fineness and resistance make it a material comparable to silk but of greater vigor. For these characteristics the natives used it to manufacture fishing gear, to tie arrowheads and to make footwear and ceremonial objects. In the water does not shrink or lose resistance. Tarnished with indigo, it was possible to weave invisible, resistant and durable fishing nets.

Different studies have shown that pita fiber has a 40% greater resistance than that of the most commonly used natural fibers (De la Cerda, 1967). Another interesting property is the white coloration that it presents in a natural state (Sanjuán et al., 2000). Finally, among the natural fibers, the pita is also characterized by its size; According to the age of the plant from which it is extracted can measure from 1.7 to 2.5 m.

Currently, more than 2000 indigenous and mestizo farmers located in the states of Oaxaca, Chiapas and Veracruz are extracting fiber from pita To supply the artisan industry of piteado in the center and north of Mexico.

The price of crafts of this type is high: a good quality belt is worth more than 100 US $ 4 a very fine work saddle can cost 50 times more. There is also a growing market for the most economical products, which basically consist of articles of less than US $ 50, such as simple belts, purses, diadems ...

These crafts are manufactured in small industries and family workshops Located in the center and north of the country. The smaller installations produce a few pieces a month and the larger ones more than 500.
The technique of the piteado begins with the elaboration of the wire, twisting the fiber by hand on the covered knee of leather. Then the craftsmen open the piece of leather to mark the drawing that will adorn it, embroider with the pita thread, lower the leather with a metal tip and end sewing a second piece of leather that covers the underside of the embroidery and, if It is a belt, adding the buckle.

In order to work with the fiber, the craftsmen seek to obtain the longest and most durable crooked yarn, which allows them to more easily embroider the leather pieces. In addition, the craftsmen prefer to count for their work with a white and uniform fiber.

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The main defects recognized by saddlers regarding the pita are: - The lack of resistance (pita blowing).

At the date of the update of this report 1 US $ was equivalent to 12 Mexican pesos

The lack of homogeneity in the thickness of the fiber: pita head, when the base of the mallet Of fiber is much thicker than the tip. The lack of combing, when the fiber is entangled and does not allow the agile extraction of the strands that will twist. The lack of whiteness, when the pita is yellowish or is pearl or bone color.

The sale of the product already benefited is done directly in the workshops of the craftsmen talar, who meticulously examine the bundles of fiber before buying them. According to the production capacity of the workshop, the transaction varies from a few to 50 kg.

The price of pita fiber is much higher than that of any other fiber, including silk. The amount paid by the artisans for the fiber bundles placed in the workshop ranges from 50 to 80 US $ / kg, depending on the quality of the product. Workshops and traders who redistribute pita at retail can sell it up to $ 100 / kg. Another way to offer pita fiber is twisted, sold by dozens of threads. There are two kinds of yarns: from one end, when one end of the fiber is twisted, the other is twisted, then twisted, and twisted, when the whole fiber is twisted. In the first case the dozen is sold at 1.00 US $ and in the second until at 24. The yarns are bought by semi-industrial workshops that produce the most commercial items and on a larger scale. Pita fiber is a product that does not have major problems of scarcity since it can be obtained all year from the plantations and the wild populations of the southeast of the country. However, due to the cycle of activities carried out by its producers, also engaged in crops such as coffee, maize, beans or chili, and seasonal increases in demand, the supply becomes insufficient at certain times of the year. Some 10 years ago, when the market was monopolized by a few traders, there were seasons of greater scarcity and phenomena of speculation.