So far, I have discovered only one shop in Puebla city that sells high quality indigenous, handwoven textiles. Siuamej is a cooperative representing over 16 groups of women who work in local crafts from the various municipalities of the state of Puebla. The sales help contribute to the well-being of more than 600 indigenous women scattered throughout the mountainous region of Puebla beyond this major city.
Most of the pieces are wool and woven on back-strap looms. They are hand-embroidered with intricate designs of birds, flowers and geometric shapes and patterns. The remote mountain villages are cold in winter and wool is a necessity. Few pieces are reformatted for the “tourist” market, and as a consequence can be considered “traditional.”
Contemporary pieces are not likely to be woven with cloth colored with natural dyes. The piece below is an antique and made of wool colored with natural dyes. It is a riot of primary color and intricately embroidered. The price was 5,000 pesos — a bit too rich for my pocketbook! But hopefully, someone who knows its value will have snarfed it up by now.
The detailing is exquisite. Cats, butterlies, eagles, dogs, turkeys, rabbits, birds, all adorn this marvelous piece.
This and the pieces below are typical of the Hueyapan region. Siuamej represents the crafts of Chachahuantla, Chigmecatitlan, Cholula, Cuetzalan, Huatlatlauca, Mezontla, Pahuatlan, Yaonahua, and Zacatlan, in addition to the capital city. Each area has a distinctive design style.
I bought a lovely, backstrap loom woven natural cotton (off white) quechquemetl (an over the head sewn-together scarf-like shawl) make in Cuetzalan, a town I have heard of but never visited. I was tempted to go home with more, but I knew my two pieces of luggage were already close to maximum weight. Even a few ounces more might have tipped me over and I was already planning on wearing two outfits on the plane ride home.
Here, you can see the traditional handwork along with the hand-tied fringes. It’s quite lovely. Most pieces are priced in the $40-$100 USD range.
For a complete visual compendium of Puebla textiles, see www.mexicantextiles.com and search for the word “Hueyapan” which is the region where these pieces are made.
To find the shop Siuamej, walk from the Zocalo on Av. Juan de Palafox y Mendoza toward the antiques and talavera district. The shop is a couple of blocks from the Zocalo on your left. The address is Av. Juan de Palafox y Mendoza #206 Centro Historico, Tel. (222) 2 32 36 94