Quexquemitl: Mexico's Pre-Columbian Poncho

BY Marcella Echavarria | August 11, 2011

Marcella Echavarria

 Quexquemitl is a type of poncho that originated in Puebla in Pre-Columbian times.

 There are seven ethnic groups in the area and some of them still make and wear Quexquemitls using back strap looms and a curved technique that is unique and rare where warps and wefts are intertwined changing places to form its distinctive curve.  Taffeta and Brocade sarge are two types of weaving that complete the piece.  This fusion comes from Mexica and Maya cultures merging in a dialogue that continues after centuries of mestizaje.

In Pantepec, Lucia Maria Angel is a ninety two year old weaver who is blind but is the only master artisan that can do this special type of poncho.  In Puebla at the Instituto de Artesanias e Industrias Populares, there is a program that aims to continue this tradition by teaching children and young adults  techniques from their ancestors. The project embraces the entire value chain integrating vegetable dyes such as grana cochinilla and traditional weavings.