Teotitlán del Valle
The state of Oaxaca is famous for the rugs and blankets of Teotitlán del Valle, a small town 24 km southeast of the capital. Weaving is chiefly a cottage industry in Teotitlán del Valle; you can buy rugs and blankets from street vendors, from hole-in-the-wall shops, or even from private homes.
If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see the artists in action. Although the modern weavers of Teotitlán del Valle work on a style of treadle loom introduced to the area in the 1500s by Dominican friars, Zapotec weaving traditions date back to at least 500 BC. If you visit the Zapotec ruins of nearby Mitla and Monte Albán , you’ll spot consistencies between the geometric wall frescos and the rug patterns of Teotitlán del Valle. Traditional motifs includefleches (arrows), a zig-zag pattern calledrelampago (lightening) and a floral shape known as thesol Zapoteca (Zapotec sun). Traditionally, these designs are woven from handspun wool colored with natural dyes made from cactus fruits, walnut husks, pecan bark, indigo, and the larvae of cochineal, an insect that lives in thenopal cactus.
If you want to continue your weaving education, check out the interesting little community museum across from Teotitlán del Valle’smercado de artesanias (craft market).