Tenangos in the Puebla house

These beautiful, colorful table decorations tell stories of ancient Mexico and nature at meal times.

By Cocina Cinco Fuegos

Los tenangos en la casa poblana 1 by Ana Carolina Díaz RodríguezCocina Cinco Fuegos

Origin

The region that inhabits the Otomí indigenous culture between the states of Puebla and Hidalgo, is the territory where the textiles called tenangos are made. This style of embroidery has three characteristics: the color of the threads, the recreation of fantastic figures and its crowded distribution along the canvas. Rectangular tablecloth with embroidery called de tenango from the Otomí region.

Los tenangos en la casa poblana 2 by Ana Carolina Díaz RodríguezCocina Cinco Fuegos

The tenango embroidery originated in the sixties of the 20th century, after a series of natural and social events that affected the Otomí region and that gave way to a precarious economic situation that affected the inhabitants of the town of Tenango de Doria. Women from the master embroiderers community, in addition to making the region's traditional blouses, sought another alternative to selling their work by starting to produce less time-consuming embroidery.

Los tenangos en la casa poblana 3 by Ana Carolina Díaz RodríguezCocina Cinco Fuegos

Processing technique

A tenango is a cotton canvas or blanket that can be of different dimensions: individual cloths, little rooms, table runners, cup holders or a dining table tablecloth where colored threads of the same material intermingle to highlight the art of drawing: fantastic animals, plants, flowers and human figures born from the creativity of the artist and the embroidery.

Although one of the characteristics of tenango is that it is very colorful, in recent decades tablecloths and individual covers have been made with embroidery in a single color like this beautiful tablecloth.  

Los tenangos en la casa poblana 4 by Ana Carolina Díaz RodríguezCocina Cinco Fuegos

Designs

There are some versions over the origin of the designs depicted on the canvases. The first has its origin in images found in the hills near the community of Tenango, which can be very varied, the motifs of animals, plants and flowers predominate, in a fantastic way.  Various motifs stand out on this tablecloth: the eagle over the nopales (prickly pears) devouring the serpent, the rooster and the deer.

Los tenangos en la casa poblana 5 by Ana Carolina Díaz RodríguezCocina Cinco Fuegos

The development of a tenango requires several steps.

One of them is to trim the canvas to the desired size, as in these four individual tablecloths. The drawing is then done using a black marker to outline the figures for the embroiderer.

The illustrators are not the same as embroiderers, they sell painted canvases to women embroiderers during market days. 

Recently, the children of some embroiderers who study graphic design or find drawing easy do this task to keep the work in the family. After the piece is embroidered, it is necessary to wash it in cold water to be able to remove the remains of the marker and not to stain the piece.

Los tenangos en la casa poblana 6 by Ana Carolina Díaz RodríguezCocina Cinco Fuegos

Set of four individual tablecloths for the table. On these tablecloths, the pieces are given a final finish by making a hem around all the edges, or an overlock seam is applied using the sewing machine.

Los tenangos en la casa poblana 7 by Ana Carolina Díaz RodríguezCocina Cinco Fuegos

Individual tablecloth with overlock finish, ideal for sharing with a rich cup of coffee.

Los tenangos en la casa poblana 8 by Ana Carolina Díaz RodríguezCocina Cinco Fuegos

Set of four individual tablecloths for the table with multicolored 
designs. 

Los tenangos en la casa poblana 9 by Ana Carolina Díaz RodríguezCocina Cinco Fuegos

A very demanding piece are the table runners used to decorate the table or a long piece of furniture. These runners have a vertical symmetry in the layout of the drawings. Normally a flower or plant with several branches occupies the center of the runner and from there animal figures are spread out that are fit in symmetrically on each side. Some table runners are given an additional finish by adding a colored cloth border along the edge.

Los tenangos en la casa poblana 10 by Ana Carolina Díaz RodríguezCocina Cinco Fuegos

Territory

The region including the Otomí indigenous group is shared by the states of Puebla and Hidalgo. For geopolitical reasons it was divided territorially, but today they remain a single cultural region. In the State of Puebla, the tenangos are made in San Pablito and the Xochimilco common land in the city of Pahuatlán. Some tenango pieces are made to make cushions with single-motif designs with animal figures or characters representing human activities.

Los tenangos en la casa poblana 11 by Ana Carolina Díaz RodríguezCocina Cinco Fuegos

In the state of Hidalgo, the tenangos are made in the communities and common land of the city of Tenango de Doria: The common land of Santa Monica, Linda Vista, El Damo, San Nicolas, La Cruz de Tenango, the suburb of San José, San Pablo el Grande, El Tranche, La Loma, La Joya, El Dixoy and El Tuxtay.

Los tenangos en la casa poblana 12 by Ana Carolina Díaz RodríguezCocina Cinco Fuegos

Another color scheme used in the tenangos are the tenangos of four colors, like this beautiful table runner in dried green, ochre, black and wine with designs of peacocks, armadillos, deer and other birds. It has a vertical fit and symmetry.

Los tenangos en la casa poblana 13 by Ana Carolina Díaz RodríguezCocina Cinco Fuegos

Some large tenangos, like this beautiful single-color tablecloth for a table, have a fit that does not follow a pattern, but that when looked at in detail, you can see the mastery of the illustrator in completing the overloaded design of the piece.

Los tenangos en la casa poblana 14 by Ana Carolina Díaz RodríguezCocina Cinco Fuegos

Picture for the wall with a nationalist motif of an eagle hovering over the nopales (prickly pears) and devouring the snake. Some recurring animals in this type of pictures are chameleons, rabbits, fish, butterflies, thrushes and pigeons.

Los tenangos en la casa poblana 15 by Ana Carolina Díaz RodríguezCocina Cinco Fuegos

Some large tenangos as in this table runner present the design of a large branch that crosses the entire piece from end to end with flowers of numerous shapes and colors. Figures such as magpies, pheasants, deer, butterflies and reptiles fit throughout the piece.

Los tenangos en la casa poblana 16 by Ana Carolina Díaz RodríguezCocina Cinco Fuegos

Rectangular table cover with birds and flowers. In some pieces the fit of animals and flowers that make up the design is amazing. There are no empty spaces and this demonstrates the differences in ancient pieces of the 1960s and 1970s, in which free spaces were more frequent.

Los tenangos en la casa poblana 17 by Ana Carolina Díaz RodríguezCocina Cinco Fuegos

Other sizes of the tenangos are the small pictures that serve as cupholders for placing drinks on the table.  The designs are of a single figure and smaller in size.

Los tenangos en la casa poblana 18 by Ana Carolina Díaz RodríguezCocina Cinco Fuegos

Table runner with peacock and flowers designs. The great diversity of colors used in the creation of a tenango makes it a great multicolored textile feast.

Los tenangos en la casa poblana 19 by Ana Carolina Díaz RodríguezCocina Cinco Fuegos

The objects placed on the tenangos allow diners' tables to be decorated.

Los tenangos en la casa poblana 20 by Ana Carolina Díaz RodríguezCocina Cinco Fuegos

Rectangular table cover. The central motif is a beautiful, colorful dog, from which flowers sprout and embellish the garden.

Los tenangos en la casa poblana 22 by Ana Carolina Díaz RodríguezCocina Cinco Fuegos

Beautiful detail of the figures of this single-color tablecloth. Objects made with vegetable fibers stand out when placed on the table, as they allow you to recognize the utilitarian character of these objects.

Credits: Story

Curator: Raymundo Fraga Valle


Photographer/Creator: Ana Carolina Díaz Rodríguez


Tenango Collectors: 
María de la Cruz Ríos Yanes 
Quetzalina Sánchez Muñoz 
Raymundo Fraga Valle


Collectors for the table:
Lilia Martínez y Torres 
María de la Cruz Ríos Yanes 
Paulina Ríos Yanes

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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