Rather Rug'ed Don't Cha Think?
Updated: Jul 11, 2019
The textiles in Mexico are beyond belief, when you walk into a market there are colours and patterns everywhere. But it isn't until you visit one of places in which their textiles are made that you truly fall in love with them. In this blog post I am going to hopefully inspire you, like they did me, to truly fall back in wonder at how amazing these rugs and patterns are truly made.
H o w t h e y a r e c o l o u r e d ?
Explaining how the rugs are coloured was the first aspect of the tour, and oh my goodness it was insane, and totally mind-boggling. Obviously the first thing they do is take natural wool from their sheep, which is washed then brushed, and then spun on the Rueca to wind the wool. After it is throughly cleaned, brushed, and spun, it's onto the dyeing.
The dyes are created from all natural ingredients to make the amazing colours which you see all over the world. Some you might expect, such as green being created from moss, but some are slightly harder to predict such as using dried and grounded cactus to produce the sublime red colour which is often associated to Mexico. The colour options are limitless, and in order to get the most colour out of each ingredient used, they are combined with lime and sodium bicarbonate to draw the colours out.
N a t u r a l D y e s V S T o x i c D y e s :
Mexico embraces lots of traditions and culture, and due to the concern about the health, and environmental impacts of textile chemicals, such as synthetic dyes; traditional artisans (like the one I had the pleasure of visiting) are producing vivid colours from all natural ingredients such as cacti, fruits, and rocks such as anil. Although natural dyes are more expensive and harder to use, Mexicans hold true to their value's. And I'm very glad they do. So when buying rugs, please do pay attention to the toxicity synthetic dyes cause. The more awareness you raise, the more artists you will push to use natural dyes, and stay away from heavily chemically dyed yarn. This can be easily checked by checking each side of the rug. If the pattern is exactly the same on either side it is a naturally made rug. So go on and have a cheeky check.
T r a d i t i o n :
Until the late 15th Century, in order for a woman to marry successfully it was essential that she must learn how to use a loom. Now a days thankfully, this belief doesn't hold true; instead it's become more of a family tradition, to carry on their family's heirloom. This learning normally starts really early, and children as young as 6 or 7 start to learn how to make small patterns without the loom, then advance onto using the loom at the age of 12-16. So although tradition has changed, it still holds the same value's.
T h e E f f o r t :
Each rug takes at least a month to create, and the more intricate designs can take up to two and a half months. So to say "Yeah, that's a nice rug." must be truly insulting. The effort and love that goes into each rug is sensational, and it's not until you see it first hand you truly wonder why they charge so little for the amazing creations that they create. I mean it's not hard to tell the effort and sweat that has gone into each rug, by the evidence of the pattern being neatly duplicated on each side automatically due to the use of a loom. Therefore making it very easy to detect a real Mexican originated rug.
M e a n i n g s & S y m b o l s:
Some patterns which are used are just due to modernist trends, they think it looks nice, it's trendy, and they run with it. But I prefer the one's with more meaning. For example; my favourite symbol is the one which is associated with the town of Mitla, which displays a symbol which symbolises each stage of life; birth, childhood, marriage, family, death and reincarnation. This pattern carries on throughout the entire rug, due to the through belief in reincarnation, which is celebrated every year on Dia de los Muertos (the day of the dead.) But that is only one of many symbols which they have, many patterns you see in the picture's below each have their own meaning.
The pictures I have provided in this blog were all from my tour at 'El Arte Zapoteco Textiles' in Oaxaca. Their website can be found here, so if you wanted a fabulous, long-lasting rug which is made with a fabulous story behind it, then check it out. Or just have a cheeky gander anyway. I hope I didn't bore you to death, but truthfully seeing these being made really creates a new perspective on the textile trade.
Thanks for reading, until next time. B x