Tenango: Colourful textiles, hand embroidered by the Otomi from Mexico.

Posted by Petra Veerman on

Tenango is a style of embroidery which originated in the Tenango de Doria municipality in the Mexican state of Hidalgo. It is a commercialized version of traditional Otomi embroidery, which was developed in the 1960s in response to an economic crisis. It is estimated at over 1,200 artisans practice the craft in Tenango de Doria and the neighborhing municipality of San Bartolo Tutotepec. The world vision of these pieces are traditional as much of the ancient ideology of these communities remains intact. 

Many here still speak Otomi, with a portion speaking only this language. Although there is contact with the outside world via the handcraft and migration out, this has affected the development of the craft. 

The embroidery is a simplified version of embroidery done for centuries, adapted for products to be sold to the outside world. Pieces generally have multiple figurative elements in stylized form, which are arranged onto the fabric in a geometric pattern, mostly or completely symmetrical. The most common elements are the flora and fauna found Tenango de Doria area including chickens, dogs, wild birds, rabbits, horses, flowers and trees. Sometimes people and other objects appear as well.

All elements may be of a single color, or multicolored. If the latter, the colors are most often combined as a series of stripes over the elements. Better tenangos have small, tight stiches, with a well-done tablecloth or bedspread takeing up to six months to make.