Allure of OTOMI

January 2, 2019


Mexican folk art is a magical combination of practical items for everyday use, or for the impractical, whimsical desire to express one’s creative spirit, for the sheer joy of decoration. It represents particular regions of the country, capturing the needs of the indigenous people and their personal visions. Diversity of materials available for use or even the roles of other cultures played a practical part in each regions creations. From leather crafts, paper crafts, ceramic designs and even the hammocks developed on the Yucatan peninsula, folk art has long played an important part to each region of Mexico.

My particular Mexican folk art indulgence is the art of OTOMI. This embroidery technique, in its purest form, has long been a passion for the people of central Mexico in Tenango de Doria in the state of Hidalgo. The mesoamerican culture brought OTOMI to life in clothing and ceremonial costumes. The characters depicted in the embroidery, as history reveals, were a way of telling the stories from the prehistoric cave and cliff drawings. It wasn’t until the 1960’s that these bold embroidery pieces became a part of mainstream Mexican folk art, after a devastating drought caused economic chaos in the region. These bold pieces of art, bursting with design and color, became the new economic source for the people.

Embroidered on white cotton cloth or muslin, these sometimes quirky imagines, were now available to all… for a price. These works of art, depending on size, can take weeks or years to complete, thereby explaining the hefty price point of each intoxicating piece. They can be found in a single color or in vibrant mixes that invariably cast a spell on me. Each tiny detail is magical and I have a hard time denying myself just one more.

Over the years, I have added many large tablecloths, bed linens and simple table runners or placemats to my ever growing collection and obsession. The art of OTOMI brings its burst of colors to my casa in Texas and on the island. Many collectors frame their pieces and display them as the art work that they represent. The allure of OTOMI and the creative culture of the Mexican people continue to represent the welcoming arms of Mexico.

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