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2011/50/1 Tenango (embroidery), handmade, cotton, made by the Otomi people, Tenango, Hidalgo, Mexico, 2008-2009. Click to enlarge.

Otomi tenango (embroidery) from Mexico

Made
Made by Otomi women in the Tenango Valley of Hidalgo, Mexico, this multicoloured textile square is embellished with embroidered whimsical characters and crisp graphic shapes. Commonly known as tenangos, this style of embroidery can be traced back to pre Aztec Meso-America with the symbolism, iconography and colour ways of the pieces reflecting the time-honoured traditions and beliefs of the Otomi people. Traditional designs featured on Otomi textiles are said to originate from prehistoric wall paintings located in the Tenango region and symbolise man living in harmony with the natural environment.

An economic crisis caused by a severe drought in the 1960s devastated the predominantly subsistence farming region of the Tenango Valley. Considering alternative ways of making a living, the Otomi looked to their artistic heritage. Successfully melding modern ingenuity with ancient traditions helped restore the rich cultural inheritance and ethnic identity of the Otomi Indians, in addition to assuring international recognition of Otomi embroidery as an art form in its own right.

This tenango, with its use of vibrant saturated colours and graphic floral and animal motifs, characterises the elaborate and intricate embroidery that has found favour with national and international buyers. As an example, in 2011, the French fashion house Hermes released exclusive designs for upscale scarves and handkerchiefs featuring colourful and eye-catching tenango designs as a means of '...preserving and passing on from generation to generation the ancestral techniques that yield products of excellence.'

Wendy Circosta, Research Assistant, 2011

Aviva, Laura, Otomi Modern, www.handeyemagazine.com, 2 November 2009, viewed March 2011
Alcanta, Edna. Hermes incorporates Mexican Indian embroidery into designs, La Prensa, www.laprnsasa.com, 7 March 2011, viewed March 2011
Mexico's vanishing textile tradition, www.mexicantextiles.com, viewed March 2011
Tenangos history, Human Rights Communication, www.iamcr2009mexico.unam.mx, 2009, viewed March 2011
Textiles of the Otomi, Barry Stern Galleries Brochure, 2010

Summary

Object No.

2011/50/1

Object Statement

Tenango (embroidery), handmade, cotton, made by the Otomi people, Tenango, Hidalgo, Mexico, 2008-2009

Physical Description

Tenango (embroidery), handmade, cotton, made by the Otomi people, Tenango, Hidalgo, Mexico, 2008-2009

Textile square in cotton muslin, hand embroidered with multi-coloured motifs including mythical creatures, flora, fauna and farmers.

Marks

Information printed on tag, attached to reverse, '100% Cotton / Made in Mexico / Hand Wash in / cold water / or machine wash / gentle cycle / cold water, separately, / cold rinse, no bleach, / drip dry, smooth / by hand, steam iron / on wrong side'.

Dimensions

Width

1680 mm

Production

Notes

This embroidery was handmade by Otomi women living in the Tenango Valley of the central Mexican highlands in 2008-2009.

The Otomi or Nah-Nu people are the fifth largest indigenous ethnic group in Mexico. Embroidery and weaving is an enduring tradition in Mexico and predates the Spanish conquistadors. This style of embroidery known as 'Tenango', can be traced back to pre Aztec Meso-America with the symbolism, iconography and colour ways of the pieces reflecting the time-honoured traditions and beliefs of the Otomi people. Designs are said to originate from prehistoric wall paintings located in the Tenango region of Hidalgo, Mexico and include animals such as turkeys, armadillos, deer, hares, parrots and floral motifs signifying man in harmony with the natural environment.

Nearly 2 metres square, the textiles are customarily given as wedding gifts. Each handcrafted cotton muslin piece can take as long as 3 months to complete. The design is first drawn on the muslin in water soluble ink with a pen. The embroiderer may subcontract the drawing or subsequently purchase it. Several villages in Tenango de Doria are well known for their colourful, decorative embroidered cloths which range from bedspreads and wall hangings to small napkins.

Wendy Circosta, Research Assistant, 2011

Aviva, Laura, Otomi Modern, www.handeyemagazine.com, 2 November 2009, viewed March 2011
Alcanta, Edna. Hermes incorporates Mexican Indian embroidery into designs, La Prensa, www.laprnsasa.com, 7 March 2011, viewed March 2011
Mexico's vanishing textile tradition, www.mexicantextiles.com, viewed March 2011
Textiles of the Otomi, Barry Stern Galleries Brochure, 2010

History

Notes

This ornate embroidery or tenango was originally part of a collection of 20 hand embroidered textiles on display at the Barry Stern Galleries in Paddington, New South Wales in August 2010. Robert Swieca, a self-confessed 'textile evangelist', brought the collection to Sydney in collaboration with Barry Stern Galleries. The collection included 10 multicoloured pieces and 10 monochrome examples from white through to navy blue and tangerine.

Mr Swieca purchased the tenangos for the exhibition from a textile historian in Santa Monica, United States of America. Recalling his reaction to the textiles, Mr Swieca said, 'When I first saw these pieces in Mexico I was struck by how intricately beautiful each piece was. When hanging on a wall they take your breath away. The work that has gone into them and the detail is astonishing - they truly are original, unique works of art.'

Source

Credit Line

Gift of Robert Swieca, 2011

Acquisition Date

20 July 2011

Cite this Object

Harvard

Otomi tenango (embroidery) from Mexico 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 26 November 2020, <https://ma.as/416031>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/416031 |title=Otomi tenango (embroidery) from Mexico |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=26 November 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}