Mexican Textiles: A Beautiful Story of Culture and Art
Mexican textiles are a key part of Mexican culture and the central piece of the identity of all of its civilizations. This is how they owned who they were and distinguished themselves from one another.
Keep in mind that Mexico was occupied by many ancestral civilizations like the Aztecs, Mayans, Olmecs, Toltecs, Teotihuacans, Zapotecs, Mixtecs, Huastecs, Totonacs, and Purépechas, among many others. The approximately 60 ethnic groups each had their own representative Mexican textile patterns, fabric uses, and clothing styles.
If you adore natural-dyed, handmade, modern, or vintage Mexican textiles, keep reading. They represent centuries of tradition that has survived globalization and modern life. Let’s explore the history and characteristics of Mexican textiles, along with a quick guide to where to buy them and other travel tips.
¡Aprendamos de los textiles mexicanos!
Let’s learn about Mexican textiles!
What Are Mexican Textiles?
Mexican textiles are an expression of local culture and art. They’re equally as important as language and traditions. What they mean today is the continuation and survival of ancient cultural heritage.
Weavers make textiles almost everywhere in Mexico. Today, many indigenous clothing pieces have fused with modern styles and techniques. Recently, Mexicans have turned to using these handmade pieces as artistic ones.
See also: A Colorful Exploration of Mexican Folk Art
A Brief History of Mexican Textiles
Traditional Mexican textiles trace back approximately 2,500 years. The first fibers came from the yucca, palm, cotton, willow, and maguey plants. After the Spanish colonized the territory of present-day Mexico, new fabrics were introduced in the local culture, such as wool and silk. Europeans also brought the pedal loom.
People produced Mexican textiles and fabric inside workshops or even at home before the Porfirio Diaz era in the early 1900s when weaving mechanization started. From that moment on, clothing was almost exclusively produced in factories. One of the major exceptions was the handcrafted indigenous Mexican textiles and embroideries.
Hand-picked for you: 10 Ways Mexican Dictator Porfirio Diaz Actually Made a Positive Impact
Types of Mexican Textiles
The most important categories of Mexican textiles are:
- huipiles – embroidered women’s shirts whose designs vary by region
- long skirts
- rebozos (shawls) used to preserve body heat and to carry children
- wall hangings
- zarapes or sarapes – Mexican ponchos
- morrales – embroidered bags used principally by men
- quechquemitl—a short, thinner version of the sarape
- house ornaments and linens
One of the most famous Mexican textiles are the sarapes de Saltillo, in the state of Coahuila. They are colorful with geometric figures.
Mexican textile patterns include spirals, crosses, moons, indigenous symbols, geometric patterns, letters, animals, and zig-zags. Depending on the region, pieces may be richly embroidered or have more discrete motifs on the edge of the fabrics.
Here is a list of where to find each of these Mexican textiles and who makes them:
- Zig-zags: Huichols in the States of Nayarit, Jalisco, Durango, Zacatecas
- Flowers: Nahuas, Huichols, Zapotecans, Huastecs, Otomis in Central Mexico
- Letters: Purépechas in Michoacán
- Animal designs: Mazahuas in the State of México, Zapotecs in Oaxaca
- Triangles: Tarahumaras in Chihuahua, Durango, and Sonora
- Moon patterns: Otomis in Querétaro, Puebla, Veracruz, Mexico City, Guanajuato, and Hidalgo
- Christian motifs: Mixtecs, Mazatecs, Nahuas, Totonacs, and Tepehuas in Puebla
- Spirals: multiple ethnic groups from Chiapas
See also: Explore the Captivating History and Culture of Mexico
Where to Buy Mexican Textiles
All the towns and cities that are famous for their Mexican textiles and clothing tend to have indigenous people selling these handmade products near the main plaza.
Here is a list of example cities where you can buy framed Mexican textiles, indigenous clothing, tablecloths, napkins, and rugs:
- Huasteca, Hidalgo
- Mérida, Yucatán
- Valle de Bravo, State of México
- Santo Tomás Jalieza, Oaxaca
- San Mateo del Mar, Oaxaca
- Santiago Zacatepec, Oaxaca
- San Juan Colorado, Oaxaca
- Sierra Norte, Puebla
- Zinacantán, Chiapas
- Venustiano Carranza, Chiapas
- Chicontepec, Veracruz
- Contla de Juan Cuamatzi, Tlaxcala
The Oaxaca and Chiapas regional dresses are considered the most beautiful ones in Mexico. To see an unparalleled Oaxacan festival filled with women wearing their best-handcrafted dresses—valued from 2,500 to 15,000 USD—go to the Fiesta de las Velas: A Colorful Oaxaca Tradition. Frida Kahlo used to wear these Tehuana dresses.
See also: Frida Kahlo and Diego: Legends and Icons of Mexican Culture
Oaxacan Dress (Velvet)
Modern Mexican Textiles from Oaxaca
Yucatán Dress (Linen and Cotton)
Chiapas Dress (Silk and Tulle)
Get Closer to Mexican Textiles and Culture
If you’re interested in Mexican textiles, you may be inclined to visit Mexico. At Homeschool Spanish Academy, we want to help you to make this experience a complete one. And what better way than learning Spanish? Learning Spanish will help you to travel easier. You’ll be able to talk with locals about more than just the weather.
Learning Spanish is a brilliant idea. It is a powerful professional and personal tool that will open job opportunities for you as well as help you connect with more people. According to CNN, 41 million people speak Spanish at home in the U.S. alone. Around the world, Spanish is the language with the most native speakers after Chinese.
Let Homeschool Spanish Academy help you with this endeavor. Become part of our 24,000 monthly enrolled student community and trust our decade of experience. Practice your newly acquired knowledge of Mexican textiles and many more subjects with our certified native-speaking teachers from Guatemala.
Prepare for your trip to Mexico by signing up for a free trial class today! We’ll tailor a Spanish package that suits your interests and needs. Get individualized flexible sessions according to your schedule. Check our affordable pricing and flexible programs.
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