The small community of Teotitlán del Valle in the foothills of the Sierra Juárez mountains in Oaxaca, Mexico, has long been recognized as a center for gorgeous textiles. In the last several decades, the intricate weavings of the Vásquez family have gained international attention.
Motifs are mostly based on traditional Zapotec design elements from pre-Hispanic buildings, ruins, and other ancient sites. With the arrival of the Spanish and the switch in the area from using cotton to wool, creative techniques and practices were naturally impacted. Organically sourced dyes have ancient roots in the region, and despite the convenience and availability of synthetic pigments, the Vásquez family continues to use natural dyes for their vividly colored woven textiles. Four main colors—cochineal for red tones, indigo for blues, moss for yellows and acacia pods for black—present a myriad of combinations, whether in carpets containing contrasting shades of fuchsia and black, for instance, or ones with a dozen or more unique colors across a single textile. Raw wool is sourced locally and spun on a hand-powered wheel and a pedal loom.
The Vásquez family has rigorously maintained its ties to the past. Isaac, for example, while working with world-renowned artist Rufino Tamayo on Tamayo’s tapestries, shared his method of extracting and applying natural dyes. Creative, collaborative, and meticulous, the Vásquez family has made important strides in both preserving and sharing traditional Zapotec textile practices.