History of Teotitlan Del Valle

The History of Teotitlan Del Valle as a weaving population has been established from as far as the pre-Hispanic era, a time in which this town paid tribute in weaved products of cotton to Tenochtitlan (the Aztec empire) at the end of the XV century. In general, Teotitlan belonged to the providence of Coyolapa, which paid tribute to the reign of Moctezuma. Around that time, it was accustomed to farm cotton in the lowland areas of the Zimatlan Valley. For this reason, there existed materials for the textile works in those regions.

As far as history can tell, Teotitlan products have always been known and appreciated by the other cultures in the region. At first, the weaving techniques were used to create dressing outfits and outer garments for protection from the elements--ultimately, creating artistic objects of decoration.

In actuality, the greater artisan masters of Teotitlan del Valle are famous all over the world for their fine wool products elaborated on large wooden looms. The designs are of many varieties and contain principally traditional pictures that represent Mixtec glyphs as well as Zapotec.

A particular story indicates that a priest in Oaxaca by the name of Fray Juan Lopez de Zarate brought sheep from Europe between 1535 and 1555 to Teotitlan. He also introduced the wheel with footing and taught a new way of weaving. From that time on our ancestors have adopted this new technique of weaving. The combination of this new method of weaving with the original method gives the textiles a unique artistic expression.

To elaborate a sheep wool tapete (rug) the following process takes place: First, the sheep is shaved and the wool is washed out at the nearest river. Once washed, it is then set out to dry with the heat of the sun. Preceding this process is the straightening of the raw fleece, aligning, and finally softening it. For the range of colors, natural and vegetable dyes are used as well as insect dyes such as the cochineal insect which produces red dyes. Other dyes come from indigo leaves for blue, alfalfa leaves for green, nut tree bark for brown, and pecan shells for tan.




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