Young Weaving Initiate with Her Offering of a Votive Loom. Photograph: ©Juan Negrín 1980

Having a long history of weaving on the back strap loom, the Wixárika are expert weavers who are renowned for their beautiful weaving (itsari) of belts (huayamete) and bags (kutsiurite). In pre-Hispanic times ixtle and cotton fibers were used, but the introduction of sheep and wool by the Spaniards was rapidly accepted by the sixteenth century. They incorporated native plant and mineral dyes to color the wool in blue, red and yellow tones.

Today, with sheep less prevalent and the use of wool in great decline, inferior but brightly colored acrylic yarns are taking their place. Few are the women who hold the knowledge of the natural dyes once commonly used by the Wixárika in the elaboration of their textiles and many Wixaritari lament the fact that they have great difficulty in acquiring a wool bag or belt for their own personal use.

The examples of bags and belts chosen for this web page are 40 or more years old. The wool was harvested from their own sheep and hand spun. Some of the samples incorporate the natural dyes and represent an art form quickly being lost, as the elders who have been the keepers of this knowledge die.

Natural brown and white wool, woven shoulder bag. Photographed by Paco Link

Natural brown and white wool shoulder bag woven on the traditional back-strap loom.

Man's woven indigo belt - Photograph ©Yvonne Negrín 2002-2018

Man's woven indigo belt - Front

A very finely spun and woven wool man's belt using indigo dye. Photograph ©Yvonne Negrín 2002 - 2018

A very fine example of a man's woven wool belt using indigo dye.