The state of Oaxaca is famous for the rugs and blankets of Teotitlán del Valle, a small town 24 km southeast of the capital. Weaving is chiefly a cottage industry in Teotitlán del Valle; you can buy rugs and blankets from street vendors, from hole-in-the-wall shops, or even from private homes.
If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see the artists in action. Although the modern weavers of Teotitlán del Valle work on a style of treadle loom introduced to the area in the 1500s by Dominican friars, Zapotec weaving traditions date back to at least 500 BC. If you visit the Zapotec ruins of nearby Mitla and Monte Albán , you’ll spot consistencies between the geometric wall frescos and the rug patterns of Teotitlán del Valle. Traditional motifs include fleches (arrows), a zig-zag pattern called relampago (lightening) and a floral shape known as the sol Zapoteca (Zapotec sun). Traditionally, these designs are woven from handspun wool colored with natural dyes made from cactus fruits, walnut husks, pecan bark, indigo, and the larvae of cochineal, an insect that lives in the nopal cactus.
If you want to continue your weaving education, check out the interesting little community museum across from Teotitlán del Valle’s mercado de artesanias (craft market).
To get from the capital to Teotitlán del Valle drive south on Highway 190, or catch a colectivo (group taxi) across the street from the baseball stadium (Estadio Eduardo Vasconcelos) on Niños Heroes de Chapultepec and Boulevard Eduardo Vasconcelos. Alternatively, the city’s second class bus station offers hourly departures starting at 9am on every day except Sunday. Go to gate #29 and look for the Valle del Norte bus line. Once in Teotitlán del Valle, you can regularly catch a return bus to Oaxaca from the market. These buses stop running at 7pm.