Ancient Mexico

Clothing and Textiles




Baskets, Gourds, Glass


Ceremonial Arts


Toys and Miniatures

Folk Art

The Market: Souvenirs & Archaeological Replicas

Clothing and Textiles (Indumentaria y Tejidos)

Mexican clothing reveals a rich tradition, combining indigenous and European elements. Weaving is an ancient Mexican craft-the oldest loom-woven fragment in the country dates to between 900 and 200 BC. Among the indigenous fibers are bark, agave, and cotton; the Spanish introduced wool and silk, with later additions of acrylics and aniline dyes. Pre-Conquest fabrics were woven on the backstrap loom, still used by Indian women to weave relatively narrow panels; men weave on the introduced treadle or floor loom, producing larger expanses of cloth.

As in all cultures, Mexican clothing comes in many varieties. It is particularly distinguished by gender (female, male), but it also varies by ethnicity (Indian, mestizo, Hispanic), by class (rich, poor), and by occasion (everyday, ceremonial).

In Mexico, women's clothing tends to be more conservative, especially among Indian groups. In addition to a skirt, indigenous women wear two common forms of upper garments: a sleeveless tunic (huipil) and a closed shoulder-cape (quechquémitl). These forms are being supplanted by the sleeved blouse, introduced by the Spanish. Men's costumes have shown greater change; the shirts and trousers they wear are both European garments. Around their shoulders women wear rectangular shawls (rebozo), while men use large blanket capes (sarape).

Textiles are perhaps the most important component of the Hearst Museum's Mexican collections, containing many fine, rare, and well-documented examples.