National Textile Day takes place on May 3rd every year, and on this day we acknowledge the people who made weaving and cloth-making into an art form.
Origins of Mexican Textiles
Particularly in Mexican culture, textiles filled with bright color and contrasting brights and darks are a central piece of identity that can be traced back to the ancient civilizations native to Mexico. There were roughly 60 different civilizations that each have their own unique textile patterns, fabrics, and styles of clothing.
Mexican textiles are seen as an art form that ties us to our ancient cultural heritage. The first traditional Mexican textiles made their appearance 2,500 years ago, and would be made with yucca, palm, cotton, willow, and maguey plants. The patterns of these textiles would depend on the region in which it was made, which also determined how detailed the patterns were. They could range from being heavily embroidered with lots of colorful fabrics, or have more discrete adornments along the edge of the textile.
The patterns of Mexican textiles were determined by the area in which they were made. Each indigenous community had its own motifs that held cultural significance. However, visuals such as flowers and spirals were popular throughout the region. Flowers were typically embroidered on women’s clothing, and spirals and other curved designs were frequently used in the central and southern regions of the now-country of Mexico.
Mexican textiles and the tribes they come from:
- Zig-zags: Huichols
- Flowers: Otomis, Nahuas, Huastecs, Huichols
- Moons: Otomis
- Triangles: Tarahumara
- Letters: Purépechas
- Animal designs: Mazahuas, Zapotecs
How Are They Used?
The importance of Mexican textiles can be seen in the sheer variety of uses they have. They can be used as tablecloths, skirts, rugs, wall hangings, belts, bags, sarapes, and more. Sarapes are the more famous staple of Mexican culture due to its prevalence in cowboy Western cinema, one famous non-Latino example being Clint Eastwood’s sarape in his 1965 film For A Few Dollars More.
That being said, the importance of textiles to Mexican and Latino culture as a whole is an undeniable key aspect of self-expression and art that still continues to encourage people to learn the traditional ways of making Mexican textiles like their Indigenous ancestors. Click this link to learn more about Mexican textiles and browse some beautiful ones for yourself!