I am currently doing research on Latin American products. Within the Latin American products, the Mexican basketry has caught my attention, so I would like to summarize its history.
It is well known throughout the world that Mexico is a territory with a vast cultural diversity, as well as an extensive biodiversity, their indigenous creatives, within their historical context, have managed to keep alive many of their traditions and customs through the centuries, is the case of the work of the Basketry.
Origin: Paleolithic Period or the Stone Age.
At the end of this stage, the first human beings appear and the early period of hunting and gathering begins, preceding the appearance of fire and pottery. The nomadic hunter began to spin ropes and nets, while they made axes and stone objects for hunting, later, they began to weave with vegetable or animal fibers, such as containers for the collection and storage of food that they found in nature. Very little evidence exists, but what was found dates to around 6,000 B.C.
Prehispanic period. Basketry is closely related to textile art, which results from the weaving of any soft fiber of plant origin such as linen and cotton or of animal origin such as wool or alpaca. The weaving of vegetable fibers evolved and became a constant within the Mesoamerican civilizations, surrounding the domestic, social and religious life of the communities, it is an activity that
was worked entirely by hand. The vegetable filaments were of two types: hard and semi-rigid, such as willow branches or canes, reeds, rattan, ixtle or henequen, palm leaves, reeds, straw, as well as other plant stems, various combinations were made to achieve different textures and models, sometimes color was added. There are several main techniques associated with the making of basketry in Mexico, coils, braiding, weaving and twisting.
Some of the articles that were produced: the tenates, (basket made with palm or tule leaves), useful for transporting fruits or vegetables; the petates, (large flat pieces made of cane or palm leaves) used to sleep, bury the dead or to wrap packages; the tompeates (palm basket) and the baskets. They also made backpacks and baskets to transport their merchandise, which they used to carry on their backs, since in those times there were no pack animals. The spinning and manufacture of cords, through the twisting technique, allowed the elaboration of nets, sandals and ropes. Around the years 1,300 to 800 B.C. the use of fibers for the elaboration of clothing and shelter pieces increased; and the consequent elaboration of the first textiles in Mexico.
Although Basketry materials are biodegradable, astonishingly, some remains of woven objects have been preserved, found by archaeologists in dry caves and rocks, many with evidence of various craft styles, including ropes and bags; in arid and semi-arid zones in northwestern Mexico, such as the Ocampo and Romero caves in Tamaulipas; others, in the Coxcotlán cave in Tehuacán, Puebla, Guila Naquitz, Oaxaca, the Gallo caves and the cave in Changuera in Morelos, as well as in Michoacán and the Valley of Mexico.
After the conquest, the Spaniards became interested in learning about and documenting the customs and art of the Mexican indigenous people, through the Mexica-manufactured Codex Mendocino, and the Florentine Codex, with texts by Fray Bernardino de Sahagún, which with illustrations has the certainty of pre-Hispanic basketry. This traditional activity remained throughout this stage, the Hispanics did not provide any teaching, however, they introduced the designs of the old world, such as baskets with handles, hats, braided palms for Palm Sunday and decoration of hearts.
New materials such as wicker, wheat straw, wood have been incorporated, achieving fabulous products of great beauty, such is the case of various pieces of furniture, among others.
Currently, work continues in almost the entire country with a large production, in which around 80 species of plants are used.