Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Textile Society of America 9th Biennial Symposium (2004)


Presented at “Appropriation • Acculturation • Transformation,” Textile Society of America 9th Biennial Symposium, Oakland, California, October 7-9, 2004. Copyright 2004 Textile Society of America.


San Andres Chicahuaxtla is a Trique-speaking village in the mountains of the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca. This paper explores changes in Chicahuaxtla Trique textiles and costume over the previous half century as women incorporated newly available commercial products into their indigenous weaving tradition.

Contact with the outside world and access to manufactured goods gradually accelerated, yet hand-woven clothing remains a strong component of women’s cultural identity. Although trade in textiles between Mesoamerican villages is certainly nothing new, the 20th century brought new materials like factory-spun and – dyed cotton and acrylic yarn in a wide range of colors, as well as industrially-manufactured textiles, clothing, and other goods. Women have selectively incorporated these materials into their textile repertoire in such a way as to maintain the essential aspects of their identity as Chicahuaxtla Trique. Some traditional textiles and costume elements such as half-gourd hats and even hand-woven skirts are being replaced by manufactured goods. Other textiles endure in modified forms, like the brown wool shawl now made of black acrylic. The Chicahuaxtla woman’s huipil, or overdress, is the most culturally significant item in her wardrobe and has actually grown ever more visually elaborate and labor-intensive to produce. In addition, new types of textiles, such as tablecloths and placemats, have emerged in response to new tourist markets now open to Trique weavers. I will draw on my fieldwork among Chicahuaxtla weavers along with historic textiles, images, and ethnographies to illustrate the complex patterns of appropriation and transformation in Chicahuaxtla Trique textiles.