Teófila Servin Barriga and Bertha Servin Barriga have been embroidering since they were very young. Their specialtyis colorful hand embroidery work on manta (a traditional hand-woven cotton) or other cotton cloth. Their unique, whimsical, and original designs tell of life in their lakeside communities: farming, fishing, fiestas, marriages, and other events. The rich imaginations of the artists enliven their charming tapestries.
Embroidery is the art or handicraft of decorating fabric or other materials with needle and thread or yarn. Handed down from generation to generation, it is often difficult to trace how far back the art of bordados has traveled through the ages. One thing is known, however, the pride in their skills and workmanship is brilliantly apparent in the crafts they sell.
Teófila is a very prolific worker and produces clothing and embroidered items of such quality that she has won many prizes at concursos (judged shows). Here she is shown with a rebozo (shawl) that won first prize at one of the shows. A book has been written about her called "Bordados para ser Contados."
The Pátzcuaro area has long been an outstanding center of craft work. Before the arrival of the Spaniards, the local artisans were noted for fine jewelry and feather work. The area was devastated during the Conquest, and then a remarkable man named Vasco de Quiroga arrived. Don Vasco, who is still revered in Michoacán, rebuilt the area and encouraged each village to specialize in a particular craft. The pre-Conquest arts were revitalized, and Spanish techniques were introduced to produce a wider range of goods.
The origins of embroidery can be dated back to Cro-Magnon days or 30,000 BC. Archaeological finds have unearthed fossilized remains of heavily hand-stitched and decorated clothing, boots and hats. Embroidery and most other fiber and needlework arts are believed to originate in the Orient and Middle East. Primitive humankind quickly found that the stitches used to join animal skins together could also be used for embellishment.
A delightful aspect of having these talented artists at the Feria is that they will embroider for you while you wait. Bring jackets and skirts and have them personalized!
If you are having problems contacting the artist, you can contact Marianne Carlson at 376 765 7485 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, however, Marianne does NOT sell the artist's work.
(Our thanks to Norm Tihor for the use of his photographs)