RUGS and WALL HANGINGS
Colorful, hand-woven wool rugs and wall hangings (originally called serapes and now called tapetes), made in the Zapotec communities of Teotitlán del Valle, Santa Ana del Valle, and Díaz Ordáz, are ubiquitous in Oaxaca. However, I have no favorite shops as I have always bought directly from the weavers themselves. Buying from the source doesn't necessarily give you any advantage in price, but it provides an opportunity to see how the wool is dyed and how the rugs are woven, and to create a personal connection with the producer.
For superb quality, drive out to Teotitlán, the best-known of the rug weaving villages. There are dozens of workshops and you can spend hours wandering from one to another. Or you can head to Isaac Vásquez García, one of Oaxaca's premier weavers and a leading expert in the use of natural dyes. Hidalgo 30, Teotitlán del Valle. Tel: 524-4122
A Note about Dyes
Many rug vendors will swear to you that their tapetes are colored with natural dyes. If you are buying in a public market, be skeptical. Aniline dyes are vastly improved and it is increasingly difficult for the untrained eye to distinguish synthetic from natural colorants.
- Price is one factor to help you judge; natural dyes are more laborious and complex to prepare and use, and cochineal and indigo are costly. So rugs dyed with natural tints are more expensive given their size and design.
- The fame of the weaver is also a factor; weavers who specialize in natural dyes are well-known and keen to maintain their reputation. If you visit their workshop, they will gladly explain and demonstrate the dying process.