June 15, 2022

Rug Stories

In the village of Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, almost everyone weave. In the courtyards, you will find a few looms and a whole range of colored wool balls hanging on the walls. In front of the doors, the graphic rugs fly in the desert dust.
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Teotitlan del Valle in Oaxaca, Mexico, is renowned for its artisanal production of rugs and weaving techniques, which are still passed down through generations. The manufacturing of these techniques comes from pre-Hispanic times and the ancient Zapotec culture.


The local patterns have been influenced by the ancient Zapotec reliefs found in the archeological sites in the area and, as well by the native American culture. These geometrical, complex motifs are each time made from memory. Most of them are very connected with the surrounding nature and the landscapes.


Creation is a part of everyday life. The workshops are located in households, and the whole family is involved in creating a rug. Weaving is taught since childhood, and the older kids of the family work alongside their parents and grandparents. During the creation process of a rug, some artisans prepare the wool, and others dye or weave it.

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Natural Dyes

In Teotitlan, the dyeing technique is plant-based = 100% biodegradable.

It is a fascinating process that works like a cooking recipe. One can always find large pots infused with plants in the workshops, heating on the fire. The artisans use natural raw materials like cochineal, indigo, nutshells, fruits, flowers and barks of plants, carbon, baking soda, and other minerals…

The most extraordinary color tones are the reds, obtained by the cochineal, an insect that feeds on the prickly pear or « Nopal." The artisans dry, crush, and use red powder to darken or lighten them by adding an acid or a basic. We start with deep reds and end with vibrant oranges, revealed in... lemon juice! From a single pigment, some artisans can create up to 28 colors.

The blue color is made from the Indigo plant or « Añil." The leaves are cut, crushed, and fermented for 20 days in water in a clay vase placed in full sun. The different shades of yellow are made from the local « Cempazutchil » flower (that blooms during the day of the dead). The shades of coffee color are obtained with walnut shells, etc…



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Teotitlan rug & Oaxaca Rug



Photographs : Céline Gaiardo @www.instagram.com/ateliers_coutume

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