Florencia Hernández Rios, Tulancingo, Hidalgo
Florencia Hernández Rios and her daughter, Rosa González Hernández, work under the name of Tonani Lily of the Valleys. They are from an Otomí region that borders Hidalgo where the same dialect is spoken, and at the same time live in a pueblo where Nahuatl is spoken. This is why their town has a combination of two embroidery techniques.
In their community of approximately 200 people, the economic situation was very precarious. Women with the desire to support their families began embroidering Otomí tablecloths. Seeing this need, Rosa began to study dressmaking to give the group yet another avenue to support their families. She worked alone for one year to make her first collection. Many did not believe in her project, but she clung to her roots and her conviction, and with great effort, won First Place in the Pahuatlán Semana Santa Consurso (judged art show) 2008. Winning this award inspired the group to continue their work, continually improving the items they made.
Today, Tonani supports more than 50 women artisans, who share Rosa’s goal to continue promoting culture through their clothing and inspire clients with the joy of color and the magic of their fanciful Mexican prints. Vogue magazine has suggested Otomi might be the “next textile trend to watch.”
For thousands of years, Mexicans have created colorful textiles, which originally identified the maker’s village or ethnic group. Otomi embroidery became popular in the 1960s, when a severe drought forced farmers to find new sources of income. The Otomi people live in the Sierra Madre Oriental Mountains in the central state of Hidalgo. Legend has it that the prints’ figures, birds, and animals were inspired by nearby cave drawings. The juxtaposition of negative and positive space makes the patterns appear graphic and modern, especially in monochromatic versions. Native artists draw all flora and fauna by hand, never using stencils. The typical menagerie includes animals like armadillos, roosters, squirrels, and deer.
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