Guide to Naturally Dyed Rugs in Teotitlan del Valle

We’re developing a detailed street map of Teotitlan del Valle that identifies the names and locations of our favorite weavers who are only working with naturally dyed wool to weave their rugs. This has required quite a bit of research; there are not many of these weavers — about 10 families that we’ve been able to tag so far. A Question for You: I’m going to put this question out there and ask for your comments. Would a detailed street map of the entire village, with a group of recommended weavers located on the map, be of value? If so, what would be a reasonable cost to pay for such a map? What would be the best way to order it, pay for it and receive it? What other information would be useful to include? Restaurants and cafes? Lodging? Walks and hikes?Please send your comments my way! Thanks.

I encourage you to read the comments below that explain how tour guides benefit from taking tourists to where they can get paid the highest commissions, regardless of quality.

8 Responses to Guide to Naturally Dyed Rugs in Teotitlan del Valle

  1. Thak you all for comments.
    I was born and raised in Teotitlan. I now live in California. My mission is to promote my weaving tradition in a sensative and respectful manner and honoring my ansisters. Coming across with various problesm such as the monopolization of the textile market by a few merchants, massive production laking quality control, and the usage of synthetic dyes. we organiced a cooperative society ( Arteova ) Arte Teotitlan Del Valle.
    Arteova is organize with the idea of ashared community economy,taking into account the equal distribution of benefits and development of responsible use of natural resources. Our product is certified by the state government. Please feel free to ask qustion.

    Porfirio Gutierrez
    Porfi@theMagicOfWeaving.com

  2. I purchased a rug from the cooperative in Santa Ana ( as well as a rug in Teotitlan), so I am not familiar with individual weavers.
    I do think that any map of the rug weavers should include Santa Ana weavers as well as those in Teotitlan, in all fairness, since they both specialize in rug weaving and are very near each other.

  3. I, too, am interested in such a map, and also a map for the nearby village of Santa Ana, which also makes the rugs and, because it is not as well known, charges less for equal quality rugs. They, too, will weave custom rugs.

    • An important distinction for me is whether a weaver uses natural dyes to color the wool. We are still in process of identifying those who use only natural dyes and this is difficult because many say they use natural dyes, give demonstrations using a bit of cochineal but actually employ chemical dyes to color the wool. If you know weavers in Santa Ana who use natural dyes, please recommend them. I am aware of a photographer who intends to make a guidebook to identify Teotitlan weavers who are not well known by tourists. He is interested in putting 100 weavers on the map, but distinguishing weaving quality or whether a weaver uses natural dyes or not does not seem to be a priority. As in all aspects of shopping, it is up the the buyer to be educated about the artwork and artisan s/he is purchasing from.

  4. I found this website because my husband was looking for a map of Teotitlan. Having a map of natural dyers would be a great service to tourists who typically do not know much about rugs or natural dyes. I recently moved to Teotitlan del Valle and have being weaving and dying with natural dyes as a hobby for over 30 years. You are correct, there are very few consistent natural dyers in the village, even though most studios have signs telling you they are. Studios even give tourists a demonstration about natural dyes, yet most do not know how to do it in actual practice. There are insider jokes abound in the weaving community here about the dye deception that is occurring.

    As I visit weaving studios and go to the market, I am consistently amazed at the things I hear vendors in this village say to tourists (and to me who they think is a tourist) to make a sale – mostly incorrect information.

    Natural dyes take 4-5 more time to create than opening a plastic bag of synthetic dye. And, high quality rugs cost a great deal more because they take more time and more wool and are often more intricate. The typical tourist needs information to make a wise decision based on the style and quality of the weaving they like best, not just price.

    As you may know, the politics of tour guides in the village make the problem of finding a naturally-dyed rug more difficult for tourists who don’t know where to go or for those who don’t speak Spanish, let alone for those who do know what they want. I would have been a good example: On my first visit to Teotitlan 10 years ago, I spoke no Spanish and had no idea where to look, so I hired a guide. The guide took me to 8 galleries before I found a naturally-dyed rug. I kept telling the guide, these are not natural and not what I am looking for. At last, he took me to a natural dyer. I almost kissed the floor of the studio!

    Just the other day, a guide brought a tourist that I know to the village. She knew which weaver she wanted to buy from because she already knew of his work and that it was naturally-dyed. The guide tried to talk her out of it and instead tried to take her to another weaver who pays this guide a large kick back, while the weaver she wanted to go to does not pay kick backs. She insisted on going to the weaver she knew about and got the naturally-dyed rug she wanted. A map would be a helpful step around these politics by letting tourists come on their own, and or being informed if they use a guide.

    Helping promote naturally-dyed rugs will help the village and those artists who are trying to compete in an less than truthful market.

  5. Let us know when you are in Oaxaca, we would like to show and tour you around Teotitlan del Valle, you can easily spend an entire day visiting weaver’s studios around the village.
    :)
    Eric Chavez

  6. I think it is a great Idea!
    I am an architect, weaver living in NYC and plan to travel to Oaxaca in the summer 2008. A map with weavers information, cafes, lodging would be of so much help right now. I haven’t seen that info on travel books. I will pay+/- 10 dollars for it. Let me know if you need help! I am good at plans and axonometrics.
    :-)
    Giovanna

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