Chloë Sayer with a Maya huipil (woman's tunic), woven on the backstrap loom in Magdalenas Aldama, Chiapas. Cotton was used for the ground; supplementary naturally dyed wool weft threads form traditional 'brocaded' designs.
Contemporary Mexican textiles are among the finest in the Americas. Five centuries have passed since the Spanish Conquest, yet Mexico is still home to more than fifty Indigenous peoples. The arts of spinning, dyeing and weaving are practised in hundreds of rural communities, where distinctive clothing styles endure. Cloth is elaborately patterned and textured on the backstrap loom. After 1521, colonisation brought new materials, treadle-loom weaving, beadwork, and an increased emphasis on embroidery.
Chloë Sayer is a freelance specialist in Latin American art and culture. The author of several books devoted to Mexican textiles, she has curated exhibitions of Mexican folk art and has made ethnographic collections for the British Museum. She lectures for The Arts Society and the V&A, and is a Research Associate in the Department for World Cultures at the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum). Her book Mexico: Clothing & Culture was published by the ROM in 2015. In 2016 she was awarded the prestigious Ohtli medal by the Mexican government. Her latest book, Day of the Dead: A Visual Compendium, will appear this year.