|The Traditional Folk Arts of the Nahua Community of Atla in the
Sierra de Puebla
In this article we’ll talk about the traditional folk arts from the communities of the Sierra de Puebla,
and we’ll emphasize the Nahua community of Atla.
In Atla, we stayed with Maria Francisca and Lucas Calvario, who we had met on a previous visit to
the area. We became fast friends and they invited us to stay with them while my wife talked to
members of the community about traditions related to midwifes and healers for her Master’s thesis
Atla has a strong tradition in embroidery, and many women in the community continue to use
clothing that is hand embroidered with designs that are apparently generations old. Maria
Francisca stated that she learned the patterns from her grandmother.
By the way, our friend Maria Francisca is the artist that is also featured on the Mexican Textiles
website. It’s a small, small world, indeed!
The embroidery work of Atla includes not only women’s blouses, but also men’s shirts, colorful
“napkins”, woven belts, and other unique forms of folk art. Maria Francisca has also made a
number of “rebozos” or traditional women’s shawls with her designs. We have also contracted
Maria to make a series of small images of animals that we plan on using to make a cloth children’s
book for our son.
Maria and her husband actually work together making the embroideries. She typically embroiders
while her husband sews the clothing on a sewing machine.
The photo featured here shows some of the designs Maria uses to create her clothing. We’re also
working with her to try and get her to expand her products into other items like purses, etc.
The embroidery technique that Maria uses is known as “pepinado.” The Mexican Textiles website
has some excellent photos on how this process works. It is a reverse style of embroidery.
The images on the embroidered folk art from Atla include whimsical animals such as turkeys,
horses, flowers, butterflies, ducks, chickens, etc. Geometrical designs are also common. My wife
is now the proud owner of several blouses, and I have a nice shirt.
I noticed that the men never wear the embroidered shirts that the artisans of Atla make, but during
the celebrations of the 15th of September, Mexico’s Independence Day, many of the boys in the
parade were wearing them.
Atla and the Sierra de Puebla are definitely a haven for folk art lovers!
Please read more about the folk arts of the Sierra de Puebla here.