Tag Archives: textile art

Huipils: Tehuana-Juchitan Clothing For Sale

I bought these lovely huipiles last year during a visit to Tehuantepec and Juchitan.  They are all handmade and embroidered by either machine or by hand.  You will love the colors and the elegant flowing skirts (very flattering).  Machine stitched designs are typical of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec style of clothing.  The sizes can fit medium to extra large because the waistbands have ties that are adjustable.  If the blouse is a little too big, just run a seam up both sides to take it in — so simple.  I would recommend dry cleaning because of the handwork.  They are $125 USD each (plus shipping) and I will accept a personal check or PayPal. Send me an email to purchase:  normahawthorne@mac.com

Outfit #1:  Orange Polka Dots.  The top is hand and machine embroidered on a tiny polka dot background.  The skirt is a contrasting large polka dot design.  Very fun.  The gored flowing skirt is 33″ long and the waistband is 36″ around but can wrap smaller with the long ties — very adjustable.  The top is lined and is 22″ long from the shoulder seam and 24″ across side seam to side seam.  The fabric feels like cotton or a cotton and poly blend.  $125USD.

Outfit #2:  Red Floral with Black Stars and Yellow Bodice.  Flowing skirt is sheer poly-silk fabric, 37″ long with an adjustable 36″ tie waistband as described in skirt #1.  Top is lined and is 22″ long and 24″ wide from side seam to side seam.  A very dressy outfit.  $125 USD.

Outfit #3:  Green Floral with Tan and White Embroidered Bodice.  Flowing skirt is 37′ long with 36″ adjustable tie waistband.  Top is lined and is 22″ long and 24″ wide from seam to seam.  $125 USD.

Pita: The Silk of the Pineapple Leaf

The pita (pee-tah) I am referring to is NOT the middle eastern flat bread that most of us are familiar with. It is the fiber produced from the pineapple leaf after it is pounded, smashed, torn into long strips, soaked and washed, dried, then used for weaving, crocheting and embroidery. It has the look, texture, and strength of silk. The exhibition opening we attended on Friday evening, August 15, 2008, at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca featured this extraordinary and beautiful material — one of the indigenous useful plant fibers of southern Mexico. Pita has been used in Mexico to decorate the leather belts, saddles, and other finery that accompany the rodeo horsemen. Its fine, silky texture is easy to manipulate to add texture and design. Today, it is also being used to create fantastic jewelry. The museum had a great display of necklaces, bracelets and earrings that had been woven and/or crotcheted with pita, then dyed with cochineal and other dye stuffs. They offered a range of designs for sale in their gift shop, too. The jewelry makes a great statement and is lightweight. What amazes me is how such intricate and fine work can be so inexpensive. Necklaces ranged from $8 to $90 USD; bracelets and pairs of earrings were around $20 USD. It was easy to support the museum by buying a few of these to give as gifts. It seemed that the entire expatriate Oaxaca community came out for this opening, dressed in their huipil finery and silver jewelry. Alongside them were art students, designers, educators, politicos, and culture afficionados. The placed was packed, bumper to bumper. The museum is encouraging international visitors and we saw many Estadounidenses, and tourists from Spain, Germany, and England. The cacaphony of language variation was music to my ears.

One of the primary purposes of the museum is to educate weavers, artists and the public about fibers and natural dyes through exhibitions, demonstrations, and discussions. During a presentation by Eric Chavez Santiago, coordinator of educational services, we learned that pre-Hispanic fibers found in the Oaxaca region are ixtle (maguey or agave cactus), henequen (agave), pita (“silk of the Oaxaca rain forest”), natural coyuchi cotton (the color of caramel syrup), chichicastle (ficus tree bark), and wild silk.  In addition, the yucca plants yield a fiber called petate which comes from the Mixtec highlands; hammocks are woven from henequin; and pita grows in the rain forests from Oaxaca to Colombia.  Amate paper is derived from the yellow bark from the tree of the same name, which artists prize for oil and water color painting.  Many people have lost the knowledge about how to grow and use these ancient plant fibers, so featuring them at the museum is an important part of cultural preservation.

With the Spanish conquest, hybrid white cotton, wool and cultivated silk (bombyx) were introduced.  The Spanish also introduced the reed for the loom, the fixed frame, two-pedal loom, and the white mulberry tree for silk cultivation.  The wild silk was found along the coast of Oaxaca, which is hand-spun using a drop spindle, then woven by women using traditional back strap looms (without reeds).

The botanical gardens on the back side of Santo Domingo Church and the cultural museum (corner Reforma and Gurrion) has an English language tour every Saturday at 11:00 a.m. The gardens feature a section on native plant materials used for weaving and dyeing. This was created some years ago by Alejandro de Avila, the curator of the Museo Textil de Oaxaca, and is another Oaxaca must-see. One must join a tour in order to see the gardens; there is no independent meandering!