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Before I start talking about the Zarape de Saltillo, I will share with you the brief history of the origins of this colourful piece that has become an emblem of Mexico around the world.

The word zarape has its origin in the Nahuatl language: TZALANPEPECHTLI; "Tzalan": intertwined; "Pepechtli": thick, padded blanket. This word has undergone some variations over time until it became the word Tzalape and later as we know it today zarape. The tz sound in Nahuatl is pronounced "z", but in Spanish we mispronounce it as "s", so its correct writing, respecting its Nahuatl origin, is: zarape.
The origin of this word was probably formed by the Nahua community to designate the blankets that the Spaniards brought with them during the Conquest, and which they spread on the ground to sit or lie down, but also to cover their bodies. They also called these TILMAPEPECHTLI: "padded tilma", since the blanket used and made by the natives was called TILMATLI: cotton blanket and embroidery that depended on who made it. This garment was exclusive to the male, square, 1.12 m on each side, which they put on their backs and whose upper angles, which passed through the neck, tied them on the chest or on the right shoulder.
In the early colonial period, the Hispanic blanket and the tilmatli were merged to form the traditional ZARAPE MEXICANO. Today's zarape thus comes from two influences: indigenous and Spanish (the latter were in turn influenced by the Arabs).

Zarape de SALTILLO

It has been identified by the Nahua Indians as "theACOCEMALOTIC-TILMATLI": "rainbow coverThe design of the book is called "The World's Most Beautiful Book" because of the variety of colours that make up its design.
A characteristic of the Saltillo zarapes is that they have a coloured lozenge and a large design in the centre. The contrast of the colours, reminds us of the similarity with the Arabic, the oriental.
Every year, a fair was held in the town of Saltillo, in the state of Coahuila, where merchants and game lovers from the different states of the Mexican Republic met and bought and sold zarapes in bulk. Thanks to this success, the inhabitants of the United States and other places were able to acquire the most exclusive zarapes of this fair. Due to the successful position of the zarape at that time, around the 17th century, its production was perfected.
The arrival of the railway did not help the continued success of the zarape and due to the restriction of the fairground game, it closed permanently; which exhausted the zarape industry in Saltillo.


The making of a zarape involves a mixture of indigenous and European utensils and techniques. Then, the essential activities involved in this process: washing the wool or cotton, vareado, carding, spinning ("motzahua")with the help of the malacatl the thread formed from the cane is placed at one end of the cane. a bundle of wool or cotton, and at the other end, by means of a rotational movement, the thread is formed and it becomes entangled in the "molote". Then the threads are prepared for weaving (warp), and the loom is prepared (which is usually moved with the feet).
The creative process is done (a fabric is formed) and a space is left to make the figures which are made with quills. You can use the tzotzopactli or tzicuaztli, a kind of comb that tightens and unifies the fabric.
The weaver stands inside a frame called a box, and from there he moves each pedal that operates the loom with his feet.
In the second half of the 18th century, the wool and cotton weaving industry developed considerably in New Spain. The Saltillo zarape, because of its colours and the quality of its fabric, became a sought-after garment and its not very cheap price brought it into the upper social classes.
Without a doubt, the zarape is an authentic Mexican garment, which has used its mestizo heritage to become an example of traditional craftsmanship.

Pride and tradition

It is said thatAntonio López de Santa Ana (who was president of Mexico 6 times) gave a zarape to Sam Houston, the first president of the Republic of Texas, when they signed the Guadalupe-Hidalgo treatyAlso that the emperors Maximiliano and Carlota sent a Zarape as a gift to Napoleon III.


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