Weaving straw, leaves, and reeds is among the oldest of Oaxacan crafts traditions. Mat- and basket-weaving methods and designs go back as far as 5,000 years and are still used today.
The drier regions of Oaxaca are sources of fronds from the dwarf palms that populate the hillsides. In the Mixteca, in places such as Huajuapan de León and Coixtlahuaca and the east side of the Valley of Oaxaca  around Tlacolula , you might see people sitting on a doorstep or at a bus stop or even walking down the street while weaving a petate (mat) or tenate (tumpline basket) of creamy white palm leaf, prized for its soft, pliable texture. All over Oaxaca, nearly everyone uses petates, from vacationers, for stretching out on the beach, to local folks, for keeping tortillas warm and shielding babies from the sun. Tenates have been raised to nearly a fine art in a number of Oaxaca localities, such as San Luis Amatlán, near Ejutla  in the southern Valley of Oaxaca . There, craftspeople interweave dyed fibers with the natural palm, creating attractive, sensitively executed geometric designs.
Carrizo, a bamboo-like reed that grows on stream banks all over Oaxaca state, is the source of stronger, more rigid baskets, usually called canastas when they have handles, tenates when they don’t. Well-known Valley of Oaxaca  sources are San Juan Guelavía and Magdalena Teitipac, on the east side, and Santa Ana Zegache near Ocotlán  in the south. Familiar variations include the prized tenate para tortillas, round at the top and tapering to square at the base, and cajas para pájaros (birdcages), sometimes fashioned in two, three, or four levels.
A third important weaving fiber in Oaxaca is ixtle, the dried strands from the leaves of maguey and related agave-family plants. Artisans all over Oaxaca craft ixtle into useful items, such as ropes for pulling, string bags for carrying, and hammocks for relaxing.