Adolfo “Fito” Garcia Diaz is an innovator. He takes the traditional ikat rebozo pattern that has been used in Tenancingo de Degollado for centuries and adapts it for contemporary style. His weaving is done on a flying shuttle loom and he makes three different rebozo lengths.
- The Raton: a short, narrower double-fold neck scarf with fringe.
- Mediano: a shawl that is long enough to wrap once around the neck.
- The 3/4: ample cloth with enough drape to wrap and hang to show off the fringes.
Fito uses 4,000 threads for the width of his larger rebozos, 2,000 threads for the base color and 2,000 threads for the jaspe or ikat part.
He has won many concursos, as they are known in Mexico. His wall is plastered with framed certificates of competitions he has won, including many First Place awards. (Photos above: Fito with our knowledgeable guide Peter Stanziale, right)
There are three looms in his small patio work area that is an extension of his home. His wife and daughter bring out the rebozos for us to look at as we watch the demonstration and hear Fito explain the warp thread preparation process. It is hard to pay attention to the discussion. Our eyes are diverted to color.
His technique for dyeing the warp threads and preparing the loom is different from Evaristo Borboa. Fito uses the fixed frame flying shuttle pedal loom while Evaristo uses the back strap loom.
These looms are similar but not exactly the same. The textile they produce can be much finer because there are many more heddles to tie to connect the warp thread. When you lift the heddle with the pedal, this creates an opening called the shed. The flying shuttle part here in Tenancingo is thrown by hand through the shed. In Oaxaca, this is a semi-automated process.
We scramble to see his beautiful pieces. It is NOT Filene’s basement. The color combinations are pure and geometrical. Some patterns combine the traditional ikat interspersed with stripes. Some are like a contemporary graphic. My friend Sheri Brautigam, Living Textiles of Mexico, calls his new work confetti. And, it looks like it.
As we drive up to the house there was a line of dyed warp thread drying across the length of the sidewalk, maybe 100 yards long.
Fito talks about the need to continue the craft. He is afraid that the Tenancingo rebozo is at risk of disappearing. He wants to keep his culture alive. As I walk the streets of Tenancingo today, I saw only one local woman wearing a well-used rebozo. Everyone else wears sports clothes a la Nike or Converse.
He dreams of starting a school to teach young people the traditional art of rebozo weaving. A young intern from UNAM is there with him, studying the art and history of the rebozo for her university graduate thesis. She will write a book about the rebozo weaving of Tenancingo when she finishes.
I am traveling with Los Amigos del Arte Popular de Mexico for this special study tour of Tenancingo rebozos. Our local guide and host is Peter Stanziale, owner of El Porton Inn Hotel, and his wife Circe Beltran Lopez. It’s a beautiful, gracious place to stay.