Artisanal textile work, characterized by weaving and embroidery, is a tradition preserved in the state of Guerrero in Mexico.
Traditional clothing is often made of hand-woven fabric with intricate weaving patterns and embroidered by hand with complex designs.
The most characteristic and traditional garment in Guerrero is the huipil (a type of loose tunic).
In Guerrero, the huipil is produced by the Mixteca, Tlapanec, and Amuzgo.
Mixtec and Tlapanec
In the Mixtec and Tlapaneca communities, sarapes and gabanes (a type of coat) are produced by using backpack looms. They are dyed with natural or commercial dyes in contrasting patterns. The best sarapes are hand made in Amoltepec. The best gabanes are hand made in Malinaltepec and have red stripes.
In Zitlala and Acatlán, women create embroidered traditional dresses, blouses, and skirts. In Ometepec, they create white blouses embroidered with sequins, with designs depicting fantastic animals, vegetation, geometric patterns, and characters.
The Acatlán community is best known for creating the Nahuatl entanglement (a kind of wraparound belt), which is another traditional garment. It is made of cotton dyed blue with three white stripes, on which floral, religious, patriotic, human, and animal motifs are embroidered.
The Amuzga people span the states of Oaxaca and Guerrero in the mountain region of the Costa Chica between Puerto Escondido and Acapulco.
The Xochistlahua community, on the border between Oaxaca and Guerrero, is inhabited by the Amuzga indigenous population. Here, weaving demands customary traditions. Cotton is grown, the weaving thread is handmade, and the back-strap loom is assembled. A hand-made textile piece, such as a rebozo or huipil takes months to produce. These techniques have been passed down from generation to generation.
Traditional designs and brocades are created in the form of butterflies, juxtaposed geometric figures symbolizing narrow paths, and milpa flowers (as a tribute to corn).
Amuzga weavers create an extraordinary textile garment called a huipil. The huipil of Xochistlahuaca is an ancestral legacy that the Amuzga women have maintained. The huipil is made of fine gauze cotton lossely woven. It is light-weight and comfortable in hot, humid climates and in winter.
The Amuzga women refer to the huipil as chuey. The word chuey is of Amuzgo origin and translates as “canvas that covers the body of a woman.
The elaboration of textiles is fundamental in the Amuzga culture, as this represents elements of cultural identity. An ancestral technique, the chuey is hand woven by the women of Xochistlahuaca, using a waist loom. Since pre-Hispanic times, the waist loom is an instrument that has been used for the creation of clothing.
The chuey is made up of two groups of thread; the warp, vertical threads that define the length and width of the fabric, and the weft, the strands that intersect horizontally with the warp.
The Amuzgo chuey (huipil) can have up to three canvases. These are joined with handmade ribbons, bent to make it a tunic. The sides are joined and openings are left for the arms, and a cut is made in the center for the neck.
The significance of the decoration of textile works will depend on each Amuzga woman, as it will transmit her sentimental context.
Through the creation of a huipil, the women share their cultural heritage and ancestral knowledge is transmitted from generation to generation. Itssignificance also lies in the preservation of the Amuzga worldview.
Current textile work in Guerrero
Currently, in Xochistlahuaca, Amuzga women still create the huipil with the waist loom. There is a strong connection with the clothing they create.
In the community of Chilapa, rebozos are also still woven.
Tablecloths, napkins and other items are also made.
The principal communities that engage in textile work are Tlacoachistlahuaca, Xochistlahuaca, Yoloxochily, Huahuetónoc and Acatlán (municipality of Chilapa).
Traditional artisanal textile work from Guerrero can be purchased from the sites below.
National Museum of Anthropology
The preservation of ancestral waist loom techniques in Xochistlahuaca, Guerrero article