The most highly prized, finely woven blankets from colonial Mexico were known as “Saltillo serapes.” These textiles, with intricate designs and rich color, were produced in workshops with a combination of Spanish and native Indian labor and woven all over ‘New Spain.’ They take their name from one of the main trade fairs located in Saltillo.
The Saltillo serape was a prestigous symbol worn by Spanish colonial gentlemen. Even in their time, the period from about 1700 to 1850, Saltillo serapes were very desirable items, and were passed down as family heirlooms.
The Durango Collection® contains a number of remarkable Saltillo serapes. These range from the most classic form, which show a central diamond medallion on a serrate diamond background in the pink to purple palette produced by cochineal dyes, to more unusual types, such as a diamond medallion serape with a banded cochineal and indigo background. Several examples in the Durango Collection® have concentric central medallions; one of these is a serape in predominantly indigo blue.
Rio Grande Textiles
The Spanish land grant system in the early 1700’s stimulated sheep herding and wool production in the American Southwest and the Rio Grande valley. While textiles produced by Hispanic people in the Southwest show the influence of Saltillos serapes, these textiles were produced for the regional market, and to withstand the rigors of frontier life.
“Rio Grande” is the term commonly used to refer to the Spanish textile tradition of Colorado and New Mexico. These textiles are still being produced today, in workshops, as a home industry, and by master weavers.
The Durango Collection’s® Rio Grande woven textiles include banded blankets, which were often made with alternating stripes of while, blue and brown, jerga, the term used for yardage, commonly produced for rugs and bedding, and more elaborately patterned textiles that show the influence of Saltillo serapes in their use of central medallions and the serrate diamond motif.