Teotitlan del Valle is world-renowned for its production of high quality woven goods. The weaving tradition in this village dates back to ancient times, when they paid tribute to the Aztecs in weavings, although at that time they wove mostly cotton and used the backstrap loom. The majority of the residents in this community speak Zapotec as well as Spanish and have conserved many of their traditions. On a visit to Teotitlan you can visit a family of weavers and they will show you the whole process of how the rugs are made from spinning the wool to dyeing it (using natural colors such as the cochineal and indigo) and weaving the rugs. Designs range from traditional geometric patterns like those found on the walls of the nearby Mitla archaeological site, to more modern designs such as reproductions of the work of contemporary artists.
The most interesting part of our tour to one of the family-owned weaving workshops was to see how the red dye produced from the cochineal, a tiny insect that feeds on cactus, is transformed into different hues by the addition of water, lime, and other natural pigments.