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The history of Otomi textiles

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Mexico has always been on the short-list of countries that inspire us, and when we decided that we would follow our first Hawaiian-inspired collection with a second collection that is an ode to Mexico, we immediately knew there needed to be some sort of nod to the beautiful work of the Otomi peoples.
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The Otomi people are an indigenous people, and the original settlers of the Mexican highlands in central Mexico. They arrived there circa 8000 BCE (Woah) and primarily live in the state of Hidalgo.
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The textiles of these people—typically featuring colorful hand embroidered motifs with floral and fauna—have been around for hundreds of years. The textiles  started gaining popularity world-wide in the 1960s as a result of a severe drought that forced the peoples to get creative about how they made money, with the women selling their artwork for tablecloths and home decor. Each design typically contains elements that help identify the particular maker's village or group.
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In order to make an Otomi, the artist first draws all the elements by hand, then embroiders the designs with a rainbow of colors using a special type of satin thread which only shows on one side of the cloth. It is an incredible, long process to complete an Otomi. 
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There are a number of reasons a true, embroidered Otomi wasn't viable for our sleep sacks and sheets (not soft enough, the embroidery would be near impossible on our fabric, and typical Otomis are embroidered on pieces of off-white muslin vs long yardage, so there are only certain-sized-fabrics available.) We LOVE a true Otomi and honor the work that goes into them, and for our line we wanted a print that was inspired by the style, but not a replica.
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 We decided to hire an artist, Jeanetta Gonzales, who is skilled in watercolor art to make our dream a reality. Unlike a traditional Otomi, our colors are a little more fluid and have a little more depth and variance—and we knew there had to be a monkey in there!
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We are SO happy with what Jeanetta came up with and the whole experience has us all the more obsessed with this method of textile art. We have personally been searching high and low for the best sources of original Otomis, so, if you're in our camp and want to fill your home and wardrobe with these beautiful embroidered works of art, check out these sources we've compiled, where you can support the originators of this beautiful form of textile artwork that inspired our own prints.
(And if you have other sources, please let us know and we'll share the good word!)
 
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Read more about the Otomi peoples here: 

 

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