Forebearing Strands: The History and Culture of Trending Mexican Embroidery

Besides Mexican embroidery, Mexico is recognized for a whole lot of other really wonderful things. Who doesn’t love good homemade Mexican food? Or a delicious margarita, a plate of guac, a night of salsa dancing, or even just a good old night of Netflix and chill – color TV was invented in Mexico, by the way.

Which is another thing that I’m sure we can all agree is a huge representative of Mexico: the abundance of color. The food is colorful, the cities are colorful, and so are the traditional textiles and embroidery patterns that differ from region to region throughout the country.

 

  

Have you ever wondered what these colors represent, or what their historical background is? Just like the dish featured above, Chiles en Nogadarepresent the colors of the Mexican flag, oftentimes the colors and designs featured in Mexican embroidery and textiles also carry a deeper meaning behind them.

For example, in Oaxaca, it was very common for embroidery to be done traditionally with the tip of the maguey or agave plant. Although today a needle has replaced the ancient technique, several different indigenous groups in the region have maintained their traditional embroidery styles.

A community located in Oaxaca known as Tzjon Non which literally translates to “town of yarn”, are known for embroidering their dreams and wisdom in lines across a traditional dress called the Huipil. The image you see below is our Erica Maree huipil blouse, featuring traditional embroidery but a slightly different design.

We’ve even made a Huipil crop top!

Another very increasingly popular Mexican embroidery style is the beautifully delicate embroidery technique of the indigenous Otomi people. Otomi, although mainly residing in Hidalgo, can be found in various regions throughout Mexico including Querétaro, Puebla, Veracruz, and Michoacán.

 

Otomi Woman in the Temoaya Mountains

 

Otomi textiles, also known as tenangos can take up to months to embroider. And although it hasn’t been exactly confirmed, they are said to be inspired by cave paintings and contain designs that date back to prehistoric roots. The symbols range from animals and plants, to people and mythological creatures, and are traced onto the fabric with a pencil to be later embroidered by a rich thread that appears on only one side of the finished product.

 

Erica on her recent sourcing trip to meet Otomi Embroiderers

Erica Maree Otomi Embroidered Oversize Clutch

Erica Maree Otomi Throw Blanket

There is a never-ending depth to the history of Mexico, and you could spend your entire life learning new things about the rich culture this spectacular country has to offer. We learn new things about this country every day, and here at the Erica Maree studio, which doubles as a bohemian fashion and accessory shop in beautiful Puerto Vallarta, we believe in the value of supporting artisans whose handicrafts have been passed down for generations. Each one of our pieces is created by hand with heart and soul, and provides fair labor wages for artisans in order to keep the magic of traditional Mexican hand embroidery alive.

As always, thanks for shopping handmade!