Hilán Cruz, Huauchinango, Puebla
Hilán Cruz is from Tlacomulco Huauchinango Puebla, a Nahua community in which the traditional textile plays a very important role because it identifies then as indigenous people and speakers of a native language.
Since he was very young, he was interested in the topics associated with his culture. A very important part of his life was interacting with his maternal grandmother, because thanks to her, he understood that traditional textiles are not only simple clothes, but a complex system where the knowledge of his people is kept stored.
His first introduction to the textile world was embroidery. In his village, the traditional huipiles (blouses) are decorated with small stitches of pepenado-hilvan that form geometric figures of flora and fauna, as well as mythological beings and small human representations that reflect our feelings and perception of the cosmos.
One day while walking down the street, he saw in the distance an old woman weaving a shawl. The blue threads quickly caught his attention and, with it, an interest in the weaving process and its meaning for his community. He arrived home and asked his mother about what he had seen. She told him that it was a very significant activity for women because backstrap loom weaving was not only the creation of a piece, but an inheritance that their grandmothers had left them since ancient times — unfortunately, this practice was about to disappear.
He decided to learn to weave. The road was difficult, full of complications — he could not find anyone to teach him and his father was displeased with his initiative. But after a while, he found someone to show him the process of weaving and so he began to make small canvases that he still keeps. Soon, Hilán was making larger pieces, some rebozos (shawls) and cotons (gabanes / ponchos), it was a difficult path, but of his many lessons, he understood that the development of a piece on the backstrap loom carried with it many responsibilities and what he was creating had to be shared.
One of his personal projects is the rescue of the tejido en curva (curved weaving), this is done on the backstrap loom using various techniques to finish a textile called quechquemitl, a piece composed of two canvases joined at the ends creating a small layer with spiky ends and it is only used by women. The unique part of this process is that a part of the warp becomes part of the weft creating a continuity in a strip that ornaments the piece and creates a curve
Some years have passed since his first curved quechquemitl, but the desire to know more about his people through their textiles increases every day and motivates him to continue working, to continue sharing the greatness of the cultural heritage of his ancestors embodied in weaving destined to cover and protect people of all ages or to be admired by the eyes of people who are looking to understand what a textile is beyond its structural and aesthetic complexity.
Yolcentle, Hilán’s workshop, is comprised of 25 people, all in charge of each of the pieces they make and, in case of dyeing yarns, they all get together to learn and share knowledge. They collaborate both outside and inside their village regarding the complex knowledge related to weaving and embroidery that adorns the clothing of Nahua women and men. Also, they show the complex techniques used in backstrap loom that are used in the elaboration of fine blankets of wool, cotton and natural dyes — this allows them to understand the structure of the pieces and their symbolism. Finally, they created small backstrap loom weaving workshops focused mainly on the children of their community because they believe it is important to preserve this tradition.
During his journey, Hilán has collected several awards, recognitions, work and new knowledge. He says he loves the feeling of the possession of a knowledge jealously guarded by the women of his community and fills him with pride. In the end, what keeps him fighting is knowing that in the not-too-distant future society in general, and especially the children of his town, will know how important and valuable it is to maintain their cultural heritage as well as to value the Nahua textile legacy that has been given to them to protect and exalt.
Hilán was presented with the Presidential Award at the Gran Premio Nacional de Arte Popular Mexicano 2022. He attended the 4th Franco-Mexicano de Jóvenes Emprendedores de las Industrias Creativas 2018 (French-Mexico Young Entrepreneurs in Creative Industry).
Hilán has also achieved something dreamed of by many designers: collaborating with the prestigious French fashion house Christian Dior. Dior’s Cruise 2024 Collection was presented May 2023 in an impressive runway show at the Colegio de San Ildefonso in Mexico City. Mexico was the inspiration for Dior’s collection in which pieces combined traditional embroidery and weaving techniques with Dior's iconic silhouettes. At least half a dozen Mexican workshops and artisanal brands collaborated with Dior in the making of its Cruise 2024 collection — Hilán Cruz Cruz was one of the textile artisans invited to participate.
Tejido en Curva/Yolcentle
(2) Nicolaza cruz Vargas (mother)
55 73 43 10 91