When Irvin and Lisa Trujillo got married, they went up to Santa Fe for their honeymoon. Not a great distance from Albuquerque, but nevertheless it was an important choice. They went to see a museum show about Saltillo weavings. Remember that Lisa was about to start her life as a professional weaver, and that Irvin had been weaving since he was a child. But neither of them had seen Saltillo weavings before. The show convinced them both that they were going to have to weave in this style.
These beautiful textiles originated in Mexico. They are very finely woven tapestries, with a border, vertically oriented background design and serrated center diamond. Some of the classic Saltillos have what is described as a lozenge shape as opposed to the diamond shape in the center. The Saltillos were owned by the wealthy elite landowners of the time, the hacenderos. When Mexico gained independendence from Spain, the Saltillos were a symbol of national pride.
The wealth that produced these fine textiles in Mexico did not exist in New Mexico. But the Governor of New Mexico in 1807 invited two weaving experts to come north with the aim of improving textile production. The Bazan brothers are credited with bringing the Saltillo style and the tapestry techniques needed to produce them, to New Mexico.
We call the New Mexico version, Rio Grande Saltillos. They have never been produced in large numbers, but we are aware of a few different recognizable variations. One thing that they seem to all share is that they have vertical borders like the classic Mexican Saltillos, but they don’t have horizontal borders. These are replaced by stripes.
We call this first group “vertically dominated”. They have the vertically oriented background designs of the classic Saltillo, but do not have a central diamond.
Others have a central diamond that seem to radiate to the ends.
Some have a central diamond and dispersed elements that make up the background of the piece. Some of these have no vertical borders at all.
There are pieces with the dispersed element field, a center diamond, and big corner elements.