Agave or Maguey

31 January 2016


The agaves or magueyes are plants of the Americas, adapted to dry conditions and very useful to humans.  The Museo Textile de Oaxaca says that near here, Oaxaca City, they found remains of  10 000 year old net made from agave fibers. Today agaves may have a presence in your life as agave nectar, tequila or mezcal.image

The Museo has mounted an small but stunning exhibit of object made from fibers from the different agaves: ixtle, sisal, pita, cabuya.  There is one woven piece of cloth, delicate and sheer, but mostly bags, nets, with a slingshot and sandals thrown in. Most items are natural color but the variety of construction techniques is surprising; braiding and variations, needle looping, knotted netting.

This bag is some technique that looks a lot like knitting but I’m pretty sure it is a kind of looping. The bag is very nice  but the strap is what caught my attention!


















Here is a cylindrical bag with draw strings at both ends. it does have words worked into one end and is of fairly recent construction.image




But here is a detail of the texture on the bag:image

Here is a stunning bag, made in 2008, looks like it would stand up on its own.  It has a lining the same as the outside.  Made of ixtle or pita, the fiber of Chevaliera Magdalena, by a master craftsman, Tito Suárez.




It looks like a twill with diagonal ridges in each section but it is not woven.





So here is a detail:image

Looks like some fancy braiding to me.  By braiding I mean there is only one set of working threads that are at one time warp then weft.  Also called finger weaving or technically active-passive oblique intertwining.  There are many moving ends to keep in order.


Outside the museum it the patio the museum was sponsoring an Expoventa of some top craftspeople and I found a strap made of ixtle just right for a backstrap for my loom.


It appears to be the same technique as the bag above , made of ixtle by Rebeca Jiménez  of Santa Catarina Yahuio, Oaxaca.


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