Weavers’ lives woven into a seamless tapestry
The master weaving families of Chimayó carry forth centuries-old traditions and fine art forms
Two famed weaving families of Chimayó — Rose and Eugene Vigil and Irvin and Lisa Trujillo — carry forth centuries-old creative processes and fine art forms. By Heather Apodaca
Drive north of Santa Fe up the High Road to Taos, past the pueblos of Tesuque and Nambe. Ride up, up into the mountains with their tiny hamlets, places where the veins of Spanish heritage still run strong more than 400 years after New Mexico was first colonized. Below the high treeless peaks of the Sangre de Cristos, you’ll come to the village of Chimayó, where thousands of the faithful pilgrimage each HolyWeek on a quest for the healing powers said to reside in the dirt of the Santuario de Chimayó. Home to roughly 3,000 people, the village of Chimayó is known around the world not only for the sacred earth beneath its chapel but also for the community of fabric artists who are part of a weaving tradition with a thread stretching all the way back to the earliest Spanish settlers in New Mexico.
Characterized by a singular pattern of a central diamond, straddled on either side by two sets of parallel lines, the Chimayó weaving style developed in the early 1800s. It is a branch of the Rio Grande weaving tradition, which was developed by the earliest Spanish settlers who arrived in NewMexico with a particularly hardy breed of sheep called churro in the 1500s. Containing elements of Spanish, Navajo, Pueblo, Mexican and perhaps even Moorish influences, Chimayó weavings synthesize centuries of New Mexico history into a single pattern, translated by the dozens of weaving families who live in the village. Many of these families have passed the tradition on from one generation to the next, each new family member sitting at the loom weaving his or her own story into the larger tapestry.
Continue driving on N.M. 520 past the famed Santuario de Chimayó and you’ll come to a “T” in the road. Turn left onto N.M. 76 to find Los Vigiles Living Traditions, where Eugene and Rose Vigil keep shop. Or turn right and you’ll arrive at Centinela Traditional