Made a variety of fibrous materials, basketry is one of the widest spread crafts in the world. In Mexico, these materials include, ocoxal (pine needles), jipijapa, tule, henequen, ixtle, palms, agaves, rushes, reeds and various others depending on the region.
Mexican basketry has its origins far into the prehispanic period, pre-dating ceramics and the domestication of fire. There are hundreds of different weaving stitches and the only tools needed are fingers, and sometimes a few hooks.
Basketry weaving may be flat, such as in petates, round such as in baskets and hats, spiral or tubular. Some very delicate basketwork is similar to woven cloth.
Some popular items of basketry include blowers, a kind of fan used to fan charcoal fires, tortilla holders and bags.
Explore Mexican Basketry
Bejuco is the name given range of tropical plants with long, thin and flexible stems often used in the manufacture of baskets, furniture and cords. Various communities have bejuco basketry traditions. The availability of bejucos is often dictated by the seasons.
Artisans from a variety of regions produce these beautiful and popular blowers woven using only natural fibres sourced locally. Uses range from keeping the fire going or to cool yourself down by vigorously flapping it.
A variety of palms are used throughout Mexico to craft Tenates or tenatli, as it is referred to in Nahuatl are finely woven baskets, made out of palm leaves. They have been produced for thousands of years and some of them show a truly remarkable level of detail and sophistication in pattern design and technique.
Raramuri basketry is perhaps one of the most complex and beautiful in the country. Using sotol, palmilla, and pine needles, indigenous Raramuri artisans from Mexico’s northern town of Guachochi, Chihuahua weave astonishing baskets in a variety of forms, sizes and colours.
A small Purepecha village where chuspata, an aquatic fibre is grown on the shores of Patzcuaro lake. Chuspata is used to make a variety of decorative and utilitarian crafts. The Purepecha, a group of indigenous people centred in the northwestern region of Michoacán, are known for their skill in weaving and pottery.
These tough fibres are possibly the most prevalent of Mexican basketry. Perhaps because the reed (phragmites autralis) naturally spreads with ease and is readily available in various regions of the country. A myriad of craft objects is created with these fibres including baskets, animal figures, crate, cages and more.
Similar to chuspata, tule is a soft fibre, making it very manageable and relatively easy to work with. It is grown and worked in Tultepec (from Nahuatl Tule’s hill), state of Mexico and other regions. Popular crafts include carranclanes, petates and tortilla holders.
Nacajuca, is the name of a Chontal region located in Tabasco state where two main natural materials are used to make crafts: water hyacinth (Eichhornia) and guano (Coccothrinax).
Artisans from this region harvest and weave these natural materials to create beautiful craft objects such as petates, bags, mats, boxes and more.
In this Mayan region, located in the Yucatán state, artisans harvest and weave henequen (Agave fourcroydes), known by the Maya as ki. Its long fibres are used to create a myriad of objects including ropes, sacks, tortilla holders and more.