Mexico Papers – University of Copenhagen

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CTR > Conferences and Workshops > 2016 > Pre-Columbian Textiles > Mexico Papers

Abstracts for Mexico Papers

  1. Tejer el universo: historia de una prenda sagrada
  2. Late Classic Textiles from Cueva del Lazo (Chiapas, Mexico)
  3. Transmission and Transformation: The Role of Indigenous Knowledge in Pre-Columbian Textile Production
  4. Los textiles procedentes del actual estado de Guerrero
  5. The World on a Whorl: Some Considerations on Aztec Spindle Whorl Iconography
  6. Mexica Textiles: Archaeological Remains from the Sacred Precincts of Tenochtitlan and Tlatelolco
  7. Mesoamerican Archaeological Textiles: Materials, Techniques, and Contexts
  8. The Conservation of two mortuary packages: The Candelaria Cave, Torreón Coahuila and The Lazo Cave, Chiapas, México
  9. Materiales arqueológicos (plantas, papel y fragmentos textiles) provenientes del Valle de Tehuacán, México, en el Museo Real de Arte e Historia de Bruselas
  10. Textil  de Cueva del Gallo, Morelos, México

Tejer el universo: historia de una prenda sagrada

Uso ritual y simbolismo del quechquémetl en la vestimenta de las indígenas Teenek en la Huasteca potosina (México)

Claudia Rocha Valverde, Dra. en Historia del Arte, El Colegio de San Luis AC

En la región Huasteca, al oriente del estado de San Luis potosí de México, habita en la actualidad el pueblo teenek de origen pre hispánico, el cual ha mantenido a lo largo de los siglos importantes tradiciones heredadas de manera oral. Una de estas es la confección de la vestimenta femenina, la cual es considerada sagrada ya que es usada en ceremonias de fertilidad agrícola relacionadas con su cosmovisión.
En esta ponencia se analizarán algunos aspectos relacionados con el simbolismo de una de las prendas de la vestimenta conocida en lengua indígena como “quechquémetl”, misma que representa al universo. En ésta se observan figuras bordadas que simbolizan a sus principales deidades tales como la Madre Tierra, el Señor del trueno, el Dios Maíz y algunas aves de su cosmogonía. Se analizarán también algunas transformaciones de la tradición textil que colocan en una disyuntiva a las generaciones contemporáneas en cuanto a este “saber hacer” heredado de los antepasados.Til toppen

Late Classic Textiles from Cueva del Lazo (Chiapas, Mexico)
Archaeological context and conservation issues


Davide Domenici and Gloria Martha Sánchez, Dipartimento di Storia Culture Civiltà, Università di Bologna

The excavation of Cueva del Lazo, a cave on the cliffs of the Río La Venta River
canyon in the Zoque region of Western Chiapas (Mexico), led to the discovery of
a complex Late Classic post-sacrificial context where eleven children were buried wrapped in textile bundles.
The environmental conditions of the dry caveallowed an extraordinary preservation of perishable materials includingtextiles, cordages, botanical remains, etc. The partial excavation of the cave led to the recovery of more than hundred cotton and agave-fiber textiles, probably the biggest and most important corpus of pre-Hispanic textiles ever excavated in Mesoamerica. In our paper we will provide a discussion of the archaeological context, a description of the recovered textiles, as well as
information regarding their conservation and museum display. Some comparisons
with the ethnographically recorded Zoque weaving tradition will be also carried
out.Til toppen

Transmission and Transformation: The Role of Indigenous Knowledge in Pre-Columbian Textile Production


Dr. Dawn G. Marsh, Associate Professor, Purdue University

The study of the history and culture of indigenous Americans has undergone tremendous change in recent decades. This change can be attributed to many factors: increased representation of indigenous scholars, interdisciplinary approaches and collaborations, the development of new methodologies, and the emergence of indigenous theory. As a direct result of these factors, new ideas and histories that are more complicated are finding their way into a variety of fields and sub-disciplines. Archaeologists and anthropologists are responsible for producing the vast majority of scholarship on pre-Columbian textiles in the American southwest and central Mexico. Within that body of literature, there are long-held conclusions about the impact of Spanish colonization on indigenous textile production: treadle loom, wool, and design elements. My research and presentation will revisit the impact of Spanish colonization on indigenous textile production in the American southwest and central Mexico. Recent archaeological and historical studies are challenging some long held assumption that are embedded in our understanding of the impact of these encounters on textile production. My presentation and research as a historian and indigenous studies scholar will offer new interpretations and new directions for further research.Til toppen


Los textiles procedentes del actual estado de Guerrero:
Una revisión a su estudio desde la perspectiva arqueológica y etnohistórica


Elizabeth Jiménez, INAH, Guerrero

En cuevas del actual estado de Guerrero, México, se han encontrado diversos objetos orgánicos como calabazos, cordeles, guaraches, madera, semillas y hojas. Asimismo, se han recuperado fragmentos de textiles que fueron elaborados con distintas técnicas, pigmentos y texturas que dan cuenta de una especialización e intensa actividad económica en tiempos prehispánicos.
En el México antiguo los textiles tuvieron múltiples funciones. Fueron muy utilizados como indumentaria de nobles y dioses, formaron parte de rituales y cubrieron objetos sagrados que se guardaron celosamente en templos, palacios y casas de los señores. También tapizaron paredes y se les colocó como doseles, tapetes, colchas, manteles y servilletas. Los textiles eran indicadores de prestigio y jerarquía, sobre todo los elaborados en algodón, ya fueran bordados o pintados. Se usaban en fiestas, ceremonias, matrimonios y posiblemente en rituales de enterramiento. Su valor era tal que se les empleó como un medio de cambio en transacciones comerciales.
El presente trabajo se divide en tres partes. Primero daremos un panorama general de los textiles arqueológicos que se han recuperado en el actual estado de Guerrero. Después hablaremos de los materiales procedentes de la región centro-norte de Guerrero, es decir, de cuevas al norte del río Balsas por el rumbo de Teloloapan, Iguala y Cocula. Por último, veremos elaborados diseños de algunos textiles de esta región y su semejanza con telas que la provincia tributaria de Tepecoacuilco debía enviar a México-Tenochtitlan y que fueron representadas en la Matrícula de Tributos y Códice Mendocino del siglo XVI.Til toppen

The World on a Whorl: Some Considerations on Aztec Spindle Whorl Iconography

Jesper Nielsen, Institute for Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen

An unpublished collection of Aztec (Late Postclassic central Mexico, ca. 1400-1520) spindle whorls (totalling 33 items) with rich iconographic embellishment is the focus of this paper, which will discuss a set of recurring iconographic themes, such as a the ’sun disk’, ’eagles’, ’jade disks or chalchihuites’ and ’cloud-scrolls’, on the whorls. Previous treatments of spindle whorl imagery has tended to regard such motifs merely as decoration, but here I suggest that the repertoire at hand indicate a limited scope of motifs that share some cosmological and religious significance. In a broader perspective these observations point to the potential mythological underpinnings of activities such as spinning and weaving – which on the surface and from a modern, Western standpoint may seem rather mundane.Til toppen


Mexica Textiles: Archaeological Remains from the Sacred Precincts of Tenochtitlan and Tlatelolco


Leonardo López Luján, Proyecto Templo Mayor, INAH
Salvador Guilliem Arroyo, Proyecto Tlatelolco, INAH

In contrast with the rich written and iconographical data from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries concerning Mexica textiles, discoveries of such materials in archaeological contexts in Mexico City are quite rare. This paucity is reflected in our archaeological collections, in spite of the fact that the imperial Mexica capital received in tribute and trade copious amounts unprocessed cotton, thread, cord, fabric, and clothing, and that the sister cities, Tenochtitlan and Tlatelolco, were bustling centers of textile production. The few Mexica examples extant today are in poor condition and have survived thanks to being carbonized during rituals prior to their burial and then interred in flood-prone environments with copper artifacts which inhibited the proliferation of microorganisms. This paper will examine the most important textile discoveries made in the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia’s Templo Mayor and Tlatelolco Projects. After describing the procedures for archaeological recovery and subsequent conservation treatments, we will analyze the technology of these objects as well as their functions and meanings in the ritual contexts in which they were buried. Special emphasis will focus on the remains of elite garments woven with fine cotton thread adorned with gold brocade and pendants.Til toppen

Mesoamerican Archaeological Textiles: Materials, Techniques, and Contexts


Laura Filloy Nadal, Museo Nacional de Antropología, Mexico

In Mesoamerica, unlike the Andean area, there are few instances when climatic conditions allow the preservation of the organic raw materials constituting ancient fabrics. Examples of such textiles conserved in Mexican museums are quite limited, thus even the tiniest fragments recovered in archaeological contexts greatly augment our understanding of ancient weaving technologies and their use in Mesoamerican societies.
Most of the surviving fabrics come from dry caves in northern Mexico, but in recent days the exploration of relatively inaccessible rock shelters in southern Mexico has led to the recovery of additional textiles from early times that are associated with funerary contexts and has expanded the corpus of fabrics woven on backstrap as well as horizontal and stationary looms.
The tradition of cremating the dead occasioned the carbonization of clothing during rituals prior to inhumation, and painstaking conservation processes begun after excavation have enabled the analysis of manufacturing techniques and the various weaves employed. Written sources from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries reveal the iconographic and chromatic richness of the fabrics produced around the time that the Spaniards first arrived and the great variety of pigments and dyes used to color them.
The development of several archaeometric analytical techniques that require only miniscule samples have enabled us to confirm the use of indigo, cochineal, achiote (Bixa orellana), and logwood (Haematoxylum campechianum) in archaeological fabrics.
This paper will examine the techniques and materials employed by Mesoamerican peoples in examples conserved in the collections of Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, which come from various contexts such as dry caves, flooded soils, and ritual cremations.Til toppen


The Conservation of two mortuary packages:
The Candelaria Cave, Torreón Coahuila and The Lazo Cave, Chiapas, México


Martha Sanchez

In both cases the textiles are preserved thanks the dry context of the caves. They are the result of a murder ritual with different symbolism and Cosmovision. It’s a shame that in the excavation the totality of the package was not preserved. The bones were extracted and preserved, separating them from their packaging and the textile was left as a separate canvas losing the meaning, symbolism and the function. The textiles arrived to de CNCPC as a collapsed canvas, without the exact form that can define the device of question. In the processes of conservation we can view evidences that it was a canvas that had wrapped a human body; we find hair between the creases of the canvas indicating the position of the head. We want to find the best way to an interpretation and what the people now think is the means of this is object. To support our work we used a graphic and bibliographic background to rebuild the package, and as priority was decided to highlight the aesthetic and functional value by providing a better understanding to the viewer.Til toppen


Materiales arqueológicos (plantas, papel y fragmentos textiles) provenientes del Valle de Tehuacán, México, en el Museo Real de Arte e Historia de Bruselas


Julia Montoya, Investigadora independiente, Bélgica

En este trabajo se presenta una pequeña colección de materiales (plantas, ofrendas de papel amate, fragmentos de textiles y pequeñas sandalias) que provienen de dos cuevas no identificadas del Valle de Tehuacán, estado de Puebla, México. Este hallazgo data del período posclásico (1250-1521) y proviene de las culturas azteca – mixteca.  Esta colección se conserva actualmente en el Museo Real de Arte e Historia de Bruselas y hasta la fecha no ha sido estudiada. Sin embargo existe también otra colección muy similar proveniente de la misma región, período  y contexto arqueológico que se conserva en The Textile Museum in Washington, DC.

A pesar de que en el pasado se ha considerado este tipo de materiales arqueológicos como poco interesantes, éstos son una evidencia muy valiosa para el estudio de las culturas antiguas, pues ilustran aspectos de la vida cotidiana de sus creadores. En este trabajo se trata de esbozar el contexto cultural y religioso dentro del cual fueron utilizados, e ilustrar la importancia económica de su producción y manufactura, así como su uso en las celebraciones rituales propias del calendario, como ofrendas funerarias, como pago de tributo,  o para la elaboración de prendas para guerreros.
El estudio se basa en la bibliografía especializada y en las crónicas coloniales. Til toppen


Textil  de Cueva del Gallo, Morelos, México


Patricia Ochoa Castillo, Subdirección de Arqueología, MNA/INAH

Largo: 95 cms. Ancho: 19.6 cms.

En el municipio de Yautepec, en el actual estado de Morelos, en México, se recuperó de manera fortuita, en una cueva, un textil que fue entregado al Museo Nacional de Antropología para su custodia. Esto dio inicio a excavaciones por parte de investigadores del INAH por la relevancia de tal hallazgo, ya que no es común encontrar materiales orgánicos prehispánicos, solo en casos como éste en que las condiciones del terreno los preservaron. Los materiales arqueológicos y botánicos hallados corresponden al Preclásico tardío (600 a.C.-0). La presencia de este textil de forma rectangular, en tres partes, es un hecho único ya que es uno de los más antiguos encontrados en Mesoamérica.Til toppen