Oaxaca is renowned for its wealth of textiles. These can be divided into two broad categories: weaving and embroidery. In addition to the many classes of textiles found in Oaxaca City and its surrounding pueblos, many wonderful varieties come from distant regions of the state that far exceed our geographical radius. However, they can be seen in the markets and better folk art shops of Oaxaca City.
Weaving includes woolen rugs and wall hangings created on shuttle looms; cotton belts, handbags and placemats produced on backstrap looms ; and cotton cloth made on foot pedal-operated shuttle looms. The latter are either sold as yard goods or used to make finished bedspreads, tablecloths, dresses and shawls. Embroidery consists primarily of hand-made garments called “wedding dresses.” Textile patterns derive from many sources, including Oaxaca’s famous archaeological sites of Mitla and Monte Albán. Others reflect the more specific heritage of an individual family’s creative work.
Some types of weaving are created in specific pueblos and others can be found in more than one pueblo. Woolen rugs and wallhangings are woven on shuttle looms in Teotitlán del Valle and neighboring (but less frequented) Santa Ana del Valle. Backstrap loom belts, handbags and placemats are created in Santo Tomás Jalieza. Cotton cloth is produced in both the Xochimilco section of Oaxaca City and the pueblo of Mitla, where it is used for tablecloths, bedspreads and yard goods. In addition, blouses, dresses and shawls (“rebozos”) are specialties of Mitla. Embroidered “wedding” blouses and dresses are created in San Antonino Castillo Velasco and neighboring San Juan Chilateca.