today was spent walking around two of my favorite mexico city neighborhoods: san angel + coyoacán.
after tacos al pastor in the mercado san angel, we went to spend some time with the family from puebla from whom we get the majority of our mexican otomi tenangos, and to discuss new colors for the collections (love the muted olive green!) and designs for the otomi pillows we want to begin to make.
afterwards, we happened upon a favorite new find: tapetes a nudos from temoaya. these cream-colored, knotted blankets are just super: earthy + nubby + tactile.
(this wasn’t the first time i’d seen these - i’ve long admired them displayed across the foot of the beds in one of my favorite hotels, condesa d.f. - which is owned in part by a friend and designed by the amazing india madhavi).
as we stood coveting + touching + feeling, i probed for the story behind the pieces, always hoping for a good one - and was rewarded, in spades…
the blankets come from temoaya, a town in the state of mexico with a large otomi population. some 70 years ago, the state of mexico engaged in a cultural exchange program with the government of iraq, with the aim of promoting economic activity in the region. the program was two-pronged: on one end, representatives from temoaya went to iraq to teach local people how to cultivate various crops, primarily corn (maiz). on the other, iraqis came to mexico to instruct in the tradition of handknotted persian carpet making. the exchange was viewed as a big success, and brought new economic means to the otomi people of temoaya.
as is so often the case with craft, the tradition has evolved over time, adapting to current needs and market demands. the family who we were speaking with here at the market (their great grandparents were part of the original delegation to iraq) now has 30 family members making these pieces - which are woven and handknotted on wooden looms, using a combination of virgin (un-dyed) wool + cotton. the process is no longer as painstakingly laborious as the making of a true persian rug - it’s been streamlined - and the pieces are now more applicable to use as blankets than as rugs (tapetes).
a fascinating hybrid: the fusion of ancient persian technique with modern-day mexican craft, adapted to the market - and resulting in pieces that are just incredibly lovely + soulful…