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Rosario Martínez Vasquez &
Ernesto Maldonado González
Handwoven Zapotec Carpets/Rugs -"El Tono de la Cochinilla"

To Contact: This artisan’s page is part of the Feria Maestros del Arte website, a non-profit organization providing a yearly venue for Mexican folk artisans to come together to sell their work. If you wish to purchase the artisan's work other than at the Feria, you MUST contact them directly.

Teotitlán del Valle, Oaxaca
eltonodelacochinilla.com or eltonodelacochinilla@gmail.com

Teotitlán or Xaguie in Zapotec, means the place of the gods. The village of Teotitlán del Valle, Oaxaca, has centuries of tradition weaving materials from cotton and other plant fibers.

With the invasion and eventual conquest by the Spanish in the 16th century, the Dominican priest Zarate introduced the Zapotecs of Teotitlán to the use of sheep´s wool, the spinning wheel, and the horizontal foot loom, or better known as the Spanish loom.

The family of Rosario Martínez Vasquez and Ernesto Maldonado Gonzalez have been working with woolen rugs for four generations, starting with their great-grandparents. Rosario and Ernesto, are the youngest currently designing and weaving.

The training starts at around seven years of age, but throughout these seven years they had already been exposed to much of the life of the weaver. When they did start to actually work, they first learned how to do the combing and spinning. Between the age of 12-15 they learned how to weave simple designs, increasing in complexity as they became more experienced. The last process that they learned was mixing of the colors and the dyeing of the wool.

Experimenting with the natural elements used in their weaving is the most demanding and laborious of the all the processes, but it is this that surely defines their work. The predominant motif in their weaving is the stepped fret or greca, a diamond design as well as the snail design reminiscent of the famous Zapotec temples of Mitla and Monte Alban.

El Tono de la Cochinilla is the name of the family homestead in Teotitlán del Valle, where for four generations have been maintaining their rich tradition of weaving 100% woolen rugs. Each and every one of their quality pieces is hand-crafted from start to finish — from cleaning, carding, and spinning the wool, to dying, and then weaving on pine looms.

Two of the most important characteristics you will quickly note in this family's work are the pre-Hispanic designs, and their specialized use of 100% natural dyes extracted from plants, flowers and fruit, each of which is indigenous to the region of Oaxaca where they live. And, of course, the tiny insect known as cochinilla. These unique color tones add special beauty and uniqueness to our hand-made rugs, tapestries, hand-bags, pillow shams, and more.

About Cochineal and Weaving with Natural Dyes
Cochineal nesting
on cactus
Racks used to store
the cochineal
Artificial nest built
on the cactus

The red produced from the cochineal
Dried cochineal ready to crush
Crushing the cochineal
Cooking dye over a wood fire

Cochineal red
Lime squeezed onto
the cochineal changes
the color to orange

Dyed yarn
Indigo dye taken from the anil plant
Pomegranate seeds are used fora red shade of dye


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