The not-so-humble TABLECLOTH of Mexico

Something so domestic and seemingly common is anything but in many indigenous communities. The tablecloth can be the most exquisite textile a household owns or has fabricated. That’s the point. If you are from an indigenous community you won’t think twice when it’s a special occasion, feast day or an important guest – you’ll bring out your BEST tablecloth and mole manches (spills) be dammed…ni modo (never-mind) if they happen.

Because I’ve noticed these beautiful textiles in various parts of Mexico I had to photograph them. In some cases, the tablecloth is totally hand woven (Amusgos) or embroidered within an inch of its life (Mazahua). Tablecloths were so stunning that my jaw was dropped in San Pedro Amusgos, Oaxaca; Uruapan, Michoacan; and a special dinner for me in Santa Rosa de Lima, Edo. Mexico. I had never seen such extravagant cloths on tables  in very humble surroundings and it made a lasting impression.

Where to see such wonderful tablecloths? Most likely if you are invited as the ‘honored’ guest there will be one on the table. In Uruapan, at the Easter Week Artisan Fair, there was an indigenous food event where all the vendors tables had finely embroidered tablecloths (covered with clear plastic). While at the San Pedro feast day in San Pedro Amusgos, Oaxaca, I started to see these uber-bright woven table cloths and then ran into one for sale by in a vendors display. At Tlacolua Sunday market, Oaxaca, sometime there are fine embroidered ones available from the tourist blouse vendors. Keep your eyes open…

Also included in this collection are some photos from San Felipe Progresso’s (Edo.Mexico) Feast Day, held the last weeks of January. The entire church is draped with hand embroidered cloths on the altar, walls, under the Saints, over the Saints – everywhere you look! Not exactly tablecloths but elaborate Mazahua embroidered cloths honoring the occasion and blessing the church in the process.

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8 thoughts on “The not-so-humble TABLECLOTH of Mexico

  1. Buenas Dias,
    I love this site as a Ballet Folklorico teacher in Dallas, Texas. Speaking of that I’m in the market for the tocado de la Tehuana. The little girl’s dress that is worn as a head-piece. If anyone has a source, please contact me. I need them to complete outfits for my girls.

    Dan Alvarado
    DanBA@SBCglobal.net

    • Thanks Norma – the pleasure in telling the story is mine!
      No immediate plans for travel Norma – probably not until the Fall and then probably Chiapas – got some good projects starting there.
      Welcome back to your NEW life in Oaxaca – know you are smiling widely – I also send many good wishes to the Chavez’s – I do miss Oaxaca and Teo!!!

  2. There is or was a fabulous large linen store in Tlaquepaque, Guadalajara. Many years ago I bought large round heavy cotton tablecloths in solid colors.
    Does anyone know where I can find a new red one?

  3. I’m mostly familiar with tablecloths from Oaxaca – where heavy cotton weaving is done in the town of Oaxaca, Teotitlan and Mitla nearby. You can find then at the markets, but I think the ones you are talking about were made in Uruapan, Michoacan and e-mail me and I’ll see if can find the e-mail of a reputable producer. The round ones are cut from large rectangles.
    Sorry this is such a late reply.
    Sheri e-mail me at lalucita@yahoo.com

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