Woolen Woven Goods
Mexico’s finest wool weavings come from Teotitlán del Valle and the neighboring town of Santa Ana del Valle, less than an hour’s drive east of Oaxaca City. Although they learned to work wool from the Spanish, the weaving tradition, continued by Zapotec-speaking families, dates back at least a thousand years before the conquest. Most families still carry on the arduous process, making everything from scratch. They gather the dyes from wild plants and the bodies of insects and sea snails. They hand-wash, card, spin, and dye the wool and even travel to remote mountain springs to gather water. The result, they say, is vale la pena (worth the pain): intensely colored, tightly woven carpets, rugs, and wall hangings that retain their brilliance for generations.
Although many handicrafts shops and a host of stalls in all the Oaxaca City markets sell the Teotitlán and Santa Ana weavings, a trip to Teotitlán (where Santa Ana weavers send most of their products for sale) is a must for Valley of Oaxaca first-time visitors.
© Bruce Whipperman from Moon Oaxaca, 5th edition