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Mexican Textile Art

Centuries of History and Culture

Thanks to a wide diversity of traditions, customs, mestizaje and cosmogonies, Mexico is recognized as a country with some of the most beautiful textile pieces in the world 

Learn About Mexican Textile History

In every corner of the country, there are textile artists, weavers and embroiderers who have been responsible not only for immortalizing the techniques and symbolism of our ancestors in traditional clothing, but also creating true works of art. In the words of the Museum of Popular Art in Mexico City, there are, “miraculous hands that convert needs and fears into spirit, works of popular art emerged from the biodiversity that shapes their natural habitat.” When visiting different regions of the country, it is normal to be amazed and astonished by the shocking embroideries of the stalls or shops.

But how to differentiate between a textile art from Oaxaca and another from Chiapas? What is the difference between the rebozos and huipiles of San Luis Potosí or the State of Mexico? What are the similarities of Guerrero and Oaxaca embroidery? The hard work and the beauty behind every piece.

There are many indigenous communities that have maintained their textile traditions, performing practices such as plant cultivation to produce threads and textiles as well as the most delicate embroidery. Originally, the embroidery was realized with the tip of a sheet of maguey or agave; However, today, the technique has evolved with metal water. The embroideries represent the dreams and aspirations of numerous Oaxacan indigenous groups, using the nature of the valleys of the region as inspiration. Most of the garments are made with cotton and some hoops to embroider the outline of the figures and then fill with a vertical past point. The embroidery is embodied in pillows, bags and vests.

The textile art is the most artisan production of Oaxaca, México, where we support around 60 families with our projects. Women weavers know a surprising diversity of techniques and ligaments that are applied in the clothes. And because there is a surprising diversity of ethnic, climatic – economic and mountain – social and economic groups. Huipil and rebozo have a type of ornamentation and colors used. Their designs are based on magico-religious symbols typical of each cosmovision and iconography, of the community identity and of its geocultural origins.


History shows us that serapes, in their original incarnation, were intended as an inexpensive outer piece of clothing first worn by the poorer working folk of Mexico and Guatemala. The original sarapes would have been worn like a poncho, either with an opening for the head to pass through or thrown over the shoulder as often seen in the movies. As a long rectangular garments or piece of clothing, sarapes would be wrapped around the body much like a shawl or blanket for protection against cold and the environment. Serapes refer to the traditional striped weave that makes up the serape blanket or serape which is worn like a garment.

The word “sarapes” refers to the traditional striped weave that makes up the Mexican blanket design of today. Serapes which can still be found today are made of a soft – usually cotton – rectangular blanket and may have an opening in the middle for the wearer to insert his head through. Serapes can be traced back to the Chichimecs people in the area of Coahuila, which is in north-eastern Mexico. These indigenous inhabitants migrated from the Casa Grande area of Northern Mexico to central Mexico. The descendants of these many people in present day Saltillo trace their roots back to the early Chichimecs. Saltillo is the capital of the North Eastern Mexican state of Coahuila now made famous for its locally woven multi-colored blankets. Serapes blankets are still created in the Saltillo region today, but have made their way into the modern culture and history of Mexico. Because of their relationship to the Saltillo region, they have also been called sarapes, serape, saltillos, falsa blankets or just plain Mexican blankets.

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