The Zapotecs
The Other Native Americans

For a century or so, the Navajos have enjoyed the critical acclaim of people the world over for their expert weaving abilities. Their weavings are prized as highly collectible and are widely sought throughout the world. However, there are a group of indigenous people who also have a long tradition of weaving as art form, The Zapotec Indians.

The Zapotec Indians of Oaxaca, Mexico are expert craftsmen in the field of weaving, a tradition that dates back two thousand years. Their designs, styles, and techniques can be seen throughout Mexico. Located high in the Sierra Madre mountain range, a ten hour drive south of Mexico City, the isolated villages of the Zapotecs are steeped in rich mysteries of their culture. Life hasn't changed much here in the past century, tradition is more than a matter of mere's a way of life. They are one of the last cultures in the world to complete the entire weaving process without the benefits of automation or modern science.

The ancient village of Teotitlan del Valle serves as the heart and sole of this weaving tradition. Local historians claim that it was the first Zapotec settlement in the Oaxacan Valley. This would date the formative stage of their civilization sometime about the birth of Christ. Throughout their history, the Zapotecs have been renowned as weavers and Cochineal dye merchants. With cotton as their main fiber source, they had a virtual monopoly on the clothing trade in Mesoamerica. It is believed that the rug, or serape, that we know today evolved from a poncho style tunic worn by nearly all men in pre-Columbian times. The Spanish invasion and their introduction of the sheep into the new world influenced one very significant change for the Zapotecs...Wool...which has since become the medium for their artistic  expression.

Picture of Zapotec glyph at the famous ruins of Mitla. This glyph is found repeatedly throughout their weavings.
Zapotec weavers circa 1950's selling his weavings on the streets of Oaxaca.
Weaver returning from the mountains with plants for rug dyes.

These young weavers are proudly displaying a traditional zapotec motif weaving.


At Accents West we are most proud of the quality of our weavings and the artistic ability of our weavers.  When we were asked to participate in a special exhibit for the Las Cruces, New Mexico Museum of Fine Arts and Culture, it was a validation of our many years of hard work in the textile business. Joy Miller the director had become acquainted with our weavings and weavers when she discovered us at the Santa Fe Flea Market. She was in the process of putting together an exhibit at The Brannigan Center within the museum complex involving the photography work of a world acclaimed  National Geographic photographer. The display was to focus on Oaxacan culture and lifestyle, and was entitled "A Celebration of Oaxaca".   We we were both honored and thrilled when asked to participate in the exhibit not only for ourselves but the fine weavers we represent.
Pictured above is  an overview of " A Celebration of Oaxaca" exhibit. Our weavings are hung intermittently throughout the display.
In the distance is a "favorite" of the exhibit, a landscape by Josefina Jimenez.
Here are some traditional native zapotec designs and weaving styles.
Proudly displaying a custom order rug to be exhibited in the display is one of Teotitlan del Valle's few full time woman weavers, Josefina Jimenez.