Embroidery of the Cosmos: A Relationship of Fabric and Life

Embroidery of the Cosmos: A Relationship of Fabric and Life

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

Traditions in fabric

In the heart of San Luis Potosí, in Tamaletom, dwells a culture of dreams and stories embodied in embroideries. The Alabel Duche' collective keeps the history and traditions of its land alive.

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

Collective stories

A group of more than 12 artisans captures, in each woven thread, a little of their history and what makes the Teenek culture special.

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

Living culture

Embroidery has represented a way of transmitting ancestral knowledge from generation to generation. They are a great book of stories that grandparents used to tell children.

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

Preserving traditions

Modernity has brought great challenges to preserving Teenek traditions. Cecilia Santiago and Cornelio Medina, both members of the collective, have made efforts with the rest of the community to preserve the ancestral teachings of their town.

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

Garments with tradition

In the Teenek traditions, in their dances and rituals, the clothing they wear and the stories they tell are extremely important.

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

An ancestral garment

The quexquémitl is not only a garment, it is a representation of their cosmovision.

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

Meanings and rituals

Next to the Teenek star that represents the new life that is formed, there is the tree of life that symbolizes the family from its roots to its growth.

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

Graphic patterns and history

The graphic patterns on their garments signal the beginning and the end, something that all human beings share as brothers and sisters. The quexquémitls are deeply connected to the Teenek way of life.

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

Beliefs and traditions

The reverse of the embroidery is the chronicle of a life: a tree that begins in its youth, blooms with the family, and finally returns to the beginning to symbolize the complete cycle of existence.

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

Union and traditions

In ancient times, when getting married, the Teenek gave a quexquémitl to the bride and groom. This garment, proudly worn on the day of the wedding, symbolized the union and the beginning of a new stage.

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

Rituals

When a Teenek dies, he is dressed with an upside-down quexquémitl to symbolize the end of his life cycle.

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

Ancestral beliefs

Before burial, the worms embroidered on the garment are burned with a blessed candle. It is believed that, with this act, the little animals depicted come to life and protect the body from decomposition.

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

Fabric, tradition, and cosmos

The Teenek, in their deep connection with nature and worldview, have intertwined their beliefs with every thread of their clothing. Each quexquémitl narrates life cycles, rituals, and the interconnection of the being with the cosmos.

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

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