The Art of Weaving

The Oaxaca weaving tradition is centered in Teotitlán del Valle, where now over 150 families create rugs and textiles. Their work is both artistically beautiful and used in daily life.

Of all these artisans, Isaac Vásquez García is considered the maestro of weaving and his work has been featured in folk art fairs and symposiums around the world. His family continues the weaving tradition and actively produce their work in the village.

Isaac Vásquez García welcomes visitors to his workshop and display studio.

During a recent visit to the family workshop, Isaac’s son, Gerónimo Vásquez Gutiérrez shared the process of weaving rugs, which begins with collecting wool from sheep, carding the wool, and spinning the wool into yarn. Some yarns are used in their natural state for the designs utilizing cream, grey, and brown; and some are dyed using natural dyes created from bark, moss, seeds, cochineal insects, flowers, and indigo. The photo above shows cultivated cochineal insects growing on a cactus paddle: the cochineal are used to dye the wool a brilliant red color.

After the design is planned, the loom is set up to weave the various colors into a rug – this photo shows a complicated design using many colors.

Isaac’s youngest son, Isaac, Jr. has his own workshop as you enter the village of Teotitlán. Photos below show the large loom weaving a rug made on commission.

The family uses traditional weaving designs that are found on nearby ruins of Monte Alban and Mitla, originating from Zapotec ancestors.

This rug now graces my home – see the greca designs and the use of cochineal red and indigo blue. Other samples of work produced by the family are stacked and displayed around the courtyard.

Here is an excellent video on this family and the weaving tradition by Craft in America: Teotitlan del Valle weavers J. Isaac Vásquez García and family segment. BORDERS episode PBS premiere Friday, September 29, 2017.

All photos in this article copyright © 2022 Linda Marston-Reid.

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