Magic Threads: The Teenek Cosmovision

Let's talk about the Teenek cosmology that is alive in every fiber of the fabric, in Tamaletom, San Luis Potosí

Teenek artisan from the Alabel Dhuche' Collective, in Tamaletom, San Luis Potosí, Mexico. (2023-08-30) by Hugo Martínez ToledoSecretaría de Cultura

Ancestral heart

In the heart of San Luis Potosí, in Tamaletóm, about 12 artisans of the Alabel Dhuche' Collective weave stories of their ancestors' ancient dreams. 

Embroidery from the Alabel Dhuche Collective, in Tamaletom, San Luis Potosí, Mexico. (2023-08-30) by Hugo Martínez ToledoSecretaría de Cultura

The cosmos in yarn

The embroideries are miniature universes. Each stitch, a star; each thread, a reminder of the wisdom of their ancestors.

Embroidery from the Alabel Dhuche Collective, in Tamaletom, San Luis Potosí, Mexico. (2023-08-30) by Hugo Martínez ToledoSecretaría de Cultura

Community visions

Although the passage of time has threatened the traditions of their culture, through embroidery, the community has found a way to represent their cosmovision. 

Embroidery from the Alabel Dhuche Collective, in Tamaletom, San Luis Potosí, Mexico. (2023-08-30) by Hugo Martínez ToledoSecretaría de Cultura

The Alabel Dhuche Collective, in Tamaletom, San Luis Potosí, Mexico. (2023-08-30) by Hugo Martínez ToledoSecretaría de Cultura

Heritage

The old Teenek women, aware of the transience of life, left an invaluable legacy: their sample books. These fabrics are guides for future generations.

The Alabel Dhuche Collective, in Tamaletom, San Luis Potosí, Mexico. (2023-08-30) by Hugo Martínez ToledoSecretaría de Cultura

Innovate to preserve

The advance of technology has also touched the community. In order to preserve and disseminate their traditions, they have initiated a process of digitizing their embroideries to preserve them for posterity.

Teenek artisan from the Alabel Dhuche' Collective, in Tamaletom, San Luis Potosí, Mexico. (2023-08-30) by Hugo Martínez ToledoSecretaría de Cultura

Living expressions

Teenek embroidery is a reflection of their environment, their relationship with nature, and their spirituality. The flowering tree, the star, the flower of the wind, and other patterns express their interpretation of the world. 

The tree of life

The cosmic tree is vital in the Teenek tradition. Their embroidery represents the passage of time and life. It is a constant link with Mother Earth. In this piece it is surrounded by the animals that are an intrinsic part of the Teenek world.

The west of the tree is the direction that the soul of life takes, in the complete turning of the earth that is our universe. 

The east represents dawn and rebirth, and symbolizes each new beginning and the eternal connection with Mother Nature.

The north is the imperishable place of the great grandfather, who is responsible for taking care of the water and air for the life of Mother Earth.

The south measures the time of life and alludes to the sunset.

For the Teenek, the root is related to the death of the human being. It is an account of the reciprocity we have with Mother Earth when we are buried and return to the life she gave us so that something new may flourish.

Embroidery from the Alabel Dhuche Collective, in Tamaletom, San Luis Potosí, Mexico. (2023-08-30) by Hugo Martínez ToledoSecretaría de Cultura

The Teenek flower

This cross-stitch Teenek embroidery represents the ancestral wisdom of the woman. The star has eight petals and angles that form a variety of geometric shapes.

It is said to be the star of fertility because it represents the eight months of pregnancy, where the center is the first.

Embroidery from the Alabel Dhuche Collective, in Tamaletom, San Luis Potosí, Mexico. (2023-08-30) by Hugo Martínez ToledoSecretaría de Cultura

Colors with meaning

The color in the embroidery has a deep meaning; they always use the same five colors that bring a magic to enhance the geometric symbols of the pieces.

Embroidery from the Alabel Dhuche Collective, in Tamaletom, San Luis Potosí, Mexico. (2023-08-30) by Hugo Martínez ToledoSecretaría de Cultura

For the Teenek cosmology, colors acquire a deep meaning. The red represents the north and is associated with the authority of the great father. It is found in corn and is used in offerings by healers.

Embroidery from the Alabel Dhuche Collective, in Tamaletom, San Luis Potosí, Mexico. (2023-08-30) by Hugo Martínez ToledoSecretaría de Cultura

Pink, the color of the south, symbolizes love for Mother Earth and is found in the soy flower and pitaya. It represents the love and affection between human beings.

Embroidery from the Alabel Dhuche Collective, in Tamaletom, San Luis Potosí, Mexico. (2023-08-30) by Hugo Martínez ToledoSecretaría de Cultura

Orange, the east, is the light of the sun, sunrise and sunset. In the Teenek language, "mank'adh" describes this shade between yellow and orange.

Embroidery from the Alabel Dhuche Collective, in Tamaletom, San Luis Potosí, Mexico. (2023-08-30) by Hugo Martínez ToledoSecretaría de Cultura

Green refers to the west and is the color of the soul and spirit. In the past, Teenek widows wore green as a sign of mourning.

Blue is not used since for the Teenek it alludes to the sky.

Heritage in color

In every color and shape of the Teenek embroidery, the richness of Mexican ancestral traditions resonates. It is a constant call to the importance of caring for and perpetuating our invaluable cultural heritage.

Embroidery from the Alabel Dhuche Collective, in Tamaletom, San Luis Potosí, Mexico. (2023-08-30) by Hugo Martínez ToledoSecretaría de Cultura

Stories spun with the past and future

The Alabel Dhuche' Collective, led by Cecilia Santiago Medina and Cornelio Medina Santiago, preserves the rich Teenek tradition. Through embroideries that tell stories and colors with deep meaning, they connect past and present, and guide future generations.

Embroidery from the Alabel Dhuche Collective, in Tamaletom, San Luis Potosí, Mexico. (2023-08-30) by Hugo Martínez ToledoSecretaría de Cultura

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