Cotton and Embroidery – Textiles, Oaxaca
Textiles in Oaxaca are as diverse as the Oaxacan culture itself. From beautiful cotton embroidered clothes, to elaborate regional dresses (discussed on the ‘Regional Dresses’ page), to huipils, to spectacular hand-woven, hand-dyed, wool rugs (discussed on the ‘Rugs’ page). There are textiles of all kinds in Oaxaca and cotton is no exception; In Mitla there is a lot of cotton weavers that produce beautiful plain white shirts trouser and other clothing. Some of this plain white apparel is then skilfully embroidered by the local ladies adding ornate colourful splashes. Clothes are not the only textiles that Mitla produces; it is also possible to buy some very pretty curtains and table cloths. The plain white texile from Mitla is known locally as manta, and it is ideal for those who want some fresh, light, breathable clothes to keep them from overheating. Manta, plain or embroidered is available from Mitla, or from most of the markets and artisan shops in Oaxaca.
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As a textile lover, I have shopped in many markets in Oaxaca. One thing to be careful of is the imported mass produced Chinese-made tops that are made to imitate traditional hand-woven Mexican ones. As a seamstress, I can pick those out. But for someone not so familiar with machine embroidery, it might be hard to distinguish. Even if you ask the vendor if it is locally made, they will always say yes. The best suggestion I can give as to how to tell the difference is to look at the side seams and hems to see if they look handsewn.