Rebozo weaver

16 March 2016

Yesterday the Museo Textil de Oaxaca had a midday celebration to honor a 90 year old rebozo weaver from near Mexico City, Evaristo Borboa.  


Señor Evaristo was weaving in the interior courtyard of the museum, a beautiful space with natural light and many pillars. 

He weaves jaspe or ikat rebozos in cotton. 

  He weaves standing. As you can see the warp is wider than he is, 28-30″ would be my guess.   It must take a lot of upper body strength to open the sheds and standing allows him more leverage.  

These rebozos are large, 28-30″ wide by  90+ ” long by our standards but because they are light and drapey they are just the right size to wrap yourself  up. 

The resist dyed design is in the warp and to show it off the cloth is warp- faced.  The warp threads are ultra- fine mercerized cotton; the final cloth feels and drapes like silk. I can’t even guess at how many threads there are in this warp. Each one has been dyed and placed in order to create the design. 
Here you can see both the woven cloth and the unwoven warp.   If you have trouble finding the fell line look for the bottom edge of the sword or machete. Farther from the fell line the pattern on the warp is less visible, all you see are tiny spots.  This is just plain weave folks, but there is nothing plain about this. 

 If you are observant you can see that his loom is set up to weave four selvages. The final rebozos all have long elonorate fringes. 

My conclusion is that the fringe is added after weaving. This maybe the reason that other ikat rebozos have incongruent colors in the fringe. 

Here is a video of Señor Evaristo weaving.   Interesting to me is how he uses his sword to open the heddled shed.   I first noticed the hump in the warp threads when he took out the sword to open the heddled shed, then I watched it form. 

Señor Evaristo has been weaving for 83 years. That is longer than most of us have been talking, weaving must be as second nature for him as talking is for us. 


Today we were invited to see some textiles from a collector in Dayton. I was told that he had some Central Asian ikats. He does, including a velvet silk ikat. But after a few rugs and some costumes he took up upstairs to see the real textile collection. There were too many pieces and too little time. I will share a few with you today.

The first piece he pulled out was a huipil from Central America, probably Guatemala or near-by.

Huipil with natural brown cotton

The brown color is from a brown cotton still grown in parts of Mexico and Guatemala and considered special. The huipil is a woman’s tunic of Maya origins and still made and worn by indigenous women today. My guess is that the brown cotton is hand-spun. The huipil is woven in two equal panels on a backstrap loom. It is folded over the shoulder and sewn together in the center front and back and under the arms. The round opening for the head is finished with a commercial ribbon and the seams are sewn on the inside. The piece appears to be recently made and in pristine state.

Here is another huipil with brown cotton, warp stripes and brocaded. Again I would guess that the brown cotton is hand-spun. It has been woven in two equal sized panels on a backstrap loom. You can see the terminal area of weaving at the bottom of the second picture down, you can see the stripes get a little jagged. Brocading is sort of embroidery done on the loom. It uses a suppelementary weft and the design is pick-up by the weaver. The neckline is also finished with commercial ribbon.


This is a close up to see the brocade detail. The color scheme of the ground cloth is very similar to the first, unbrocaded huipil, which would lead me to the suspect that they both were made in the same community. This also appears to have been made recently and unworn. I hope this weaver is wearing an even better huipil.


This is another piece with stripes of the natural brown cotton but in a very different color scheme. This appears to be a corte, which is a tubular skirt that is worn with a huipil.
You can see the seam in this piece.

In this close up you can see what might be a hand-spun texture to the brown cotton stripes. You can also see that white dotted stripes are ikat stripes, possibly indigo on natural white cotton. Ikat is a resist dyeing of the threads before it is woven. Most ikat textiles are hand-woven.