The textile traditions of Oaxaca are centuries old. People settled in the Oaxaca Valley at least 6,000 years ago, cultivating maize, growing cotton and weaving it into cloth after it was pulled and cleaned, spun and dyed. The cochineal insect was domesticated from a wild variety long before the Spanish conquest to yield a larger bug that produced a deeper red — symbol of power for ancient royalty. Today, all forms of textile art are found in and around Oaxaca city, her valley villages and mountain hideaways. Indigenous Zapotecs and Mixtecs weave and embroider extraordinary cloth from wool and cotton on the fixed frame pedal loom and the backstrap loom. Teotitlan del Valle produces extraordinary hand-woven wool rugs. Mitla workshops are abuzz with weavers creating table cloths and dress fabric made by hand. In the highlands, villagers raise and sheer churro sheep, preparing the material by hand with traditional methods: carding and spinning by hand with a drop spindle. Along the coast, the rare murex snail is cultivated for its purple dye.
Nearby, indigo plants are cooked and dried over several months before they are ready for the inky blue dye bath. Other dyestuffs, such as moss, marigolds, lichens, pecans and pomegranates, are gathered by hand and prepared to become green, yellow, and brown dye used for rugs and huipils. Many blouses and dresses are hand-embroidered in fine detail. The glorious color and extraordinary quality of these pieces can be found in the living room workshops of individual crafts people and artists in their villages, or in some of the finer shops in and around the Zocalo and Santo Domingo in Oaxaca City. These pages will open doors for you to explore the art and textile traditions of Oaxaca, examine the culture, archeology and history of the region, and identify the places to visit and people to meet. I work with the Federico Chavez Sosa family to arrange very small group weaving and dyeing workshops in their home studio.. You are welcome to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and here’s the blog post to get details about the weaving workshops.