Unique Oaxaca Textile Tour – The experience of weaving with a local family
This is my review on a very unique Oaxaca textile tour I had the chance to join when I was living in Oaxaca de Juárez. When coming to Oaxaca, you will realize how popular textile tours are in the area, as they are the direct connection to indigenous communities.
Either if you are visiting Oaxaca for a short period of time or you are coming for a decent amount of days, I would 100% recommend visiting one of these textile family-run workshops. You can also check here a complete list of tours and activities for more inspiration for your visit to the state of Oaxaca.
Table of Contents
- The Zapotec weaving tradition in Teotitlán del Valle
- Unique Oaxaca Textile Tour – What to expect from the experience
- How to book this unique Oaxaca textile tour
- How to support local communities in Oaxaca
- Museo Textil de Oaxaca
The Zapotec weaving tradition in Teotitlán del Valle
Oaxaca is the Mexican state with the largest number of indigenous communities. These communities not only preserve their own languages, but also they still continue with traditions passed down through several generations. Some communities are genuinely proud of their heritage and they are happy to share it with visitors who are interested in sharing some quality time with them and learning about their culture and their unique visions of the world.
This is the case of the Zapotec indigenous community living in Teotitlán del Valle, who has specialized in the making of fabrics for generations – these guys are expert weavers! There are some families in this Mexican town who have joined forces to create a collective in which they all support each other. One of the main activities they offer as a collective is a half-day experience for those visitors who want to learn about their traditional weaving process to create unique pieces of handmade fabrics.
Josefina and Javier working in their workshop
Unique Oaxaca Textile Tour – What to expect from the experience
Since I moved to Oaxaca, I always wanted to visit one of the textile workshops out of town. I chose the Sacred Textile Experience offered by WSE Travel, because they work with a local guide (who translates everything to English) and because I personally connect with their work ethics, based on providing a fair and responsible trade with local communities.
During this half-day tour, you will meet a local family and learn the complete traditional weaving process used for generations by the Zapotec indigenous community of Teotitlán del Valle. You will have the chance to participate in the process of creating the wool threads and observe how to obtain the colors to dye the wool. Moreover, if you want to give it a go, you will be able to weave different types of textiles and even create your own handmade fabric (and take it as a souvenir!) guided by the local family. This local experience will end with a fabulous meal at this Zapotec family house before returning to Oaxaca Centro.
Meeting Josefina’s family and learning Zapotec language
Josefina and her husband Javier will be waiting for you at their workshop and once you arrive, they will greet you in Zapotec! How cool is that?
After a brief introduction, they will teach you some basic Zapotec words while they show you their family workshop. There are several looms in there and many pieces already in the making – this family never sleeps!
Josefina's family workshop in Teotitlán del Valle
Learn how to make wool yarn
Creating the wool threads is fun but also a very laborious process. Josefina will patiently explain the process and teach you how to make the wool thread! My friend Ryan from Maryland happened to be very good at it and almost got a year internship with the family (just kidding! haha)
My friend Ryan creating wool threads
Josefina explaining the process of creating wool threads
Observe the wool threads dyeing process
This is definitely one of the most interesting bits. They make so many different colors out of natural resources! I won’t spoil you much, since I consider this part was one of the coolest to learn about! Man, how incredible nature is and how well humans have adapted to it and used it in their favor throughout the years!
Josefina preparing to dye the wool threads
The traditional weaving process
Hands-on work! Javier will be in charge of teaching you how to weave the different textiles! If you feel adventurous, you will be given the opportunity to try and weave for a couple minutes! I surely tried and loved how easy is to use the enormous looms they own!
Did you know that men are the ones who weave?
In the Zapotec tradition, it is the man in the family who will sit in front of the loom and weave the textiles. Sometimes these are really big and heavy looms, so if you think about it, this makes a lot of sense!
Javier weaving a textile piece
Make your own textile craft
The best part of this experience for me was learning a few words in the Zapotec language and creating my own textile piece using a 90+ years old loom! Wait, a 90+ years old loom? Isn’t that crazy?
Different colors to choose from to create a fabric
Me, creating my own textile piece
Lunch at Josefina’s house
Eating with the family was also something very special. They will serve local products at their house table and cook a meal for you!
Overall it was a beautiful and very intimate experience
How to book this unique Oaxaca textile tour
Do you like what you see? Then I would like to make it easy for you! Here you can find a direct link to book your experience to visit Josefina and her family at their local textile workshop in Teotitlán del Valle.
How to support local communities in Oaxaca
As mentioned before, Oaxaca is Mexico’s number one state in terms of the number of indigenous communities living in one area. Some of the members in these communities are nowadays partnering with local businesses and international tour operators to provide visitors with a broader knowledge of what it means to belong to an ancestral indigenous community in the heart of Mexico.
Whilst locals open their hearts and houses to visitors providing them with priceless information and knowledge, there are also ways for travelers to return the favor and contribute to local communities’ well-being, as well as to help them preserve their traditions.
Buying any of their handmade crafts and textiles is definitely one way to support them. You could either buy textiles in Oaxaca Centro, or in any of the family-run businesses all around Teotitlán del Valle once you are on-site. However, there are already many businesses that ship their textiles internationally. This is the case of Josefina’s family textile workshop, you can contact them directly and they will provide you with the information you need to place your order and receive a very unique piece of fabric at your very own doorstep.
Shop at Josefina's family workshop
Museo Textil de Oaxaca
If you are fascinated by textiles, I would definitely recommend you to visit The Textile Museum of Oaxaca. This is a free-entry museum located right in the heart of Oaxaca Centro. During most part of 2021 it was mandatory to make a reservation in advance, you can check the updated information on their website.
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