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
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
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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