Arnulfo Mendoza

March 9, 2014

Arnulfo Mendoza
Arnulfo Mendoza

Today is the day they are burying Arnulfo Mendoza in the cemetery in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico. I won’t be there, but I know many people will be there to pay their last respects to one of the most well- known and loved sons of the Zapotec village known for its many talented weavers. If he had been one of the older weavers, it would be sad, but Arnulfo wasn’t one of them. He was only in his fifties and his prime of life. A talented weaver who brought the art of fine weaving up to a completely new level and a painter who created his own unique form of art, Arnulfo was known way beyond the boundaries of Oaxaca, Mexico. It was shocking to hear of his passing and he’ll be greatly mourned by his family, his son, his mother, his many sisters and brothers and their families as well as his many friends. His passing also will be a loss to the important Mexican art community as well as to all of us who knew and loved him.

I first met Arnulfo almost four decades ago when we were visiting with his father, master weaver don Emiliano Mendoza. We visited with their family often and our connection with them is one that I’ve always treasured. Gradually, we acquired weavings from don Emiliano and from Arnulfo, including fine tapestries based on his own original paintings. We remained friends for many years. He and his wife at the time, Mary Jane Gagnier, came to visit us at our home on Laguna Bacalar as well as in Taos, New Mexico and some years ago, Starr Interiors sponsored an exhibition of his work with Mary Jane doing one of her talks. It was a special occasion. We were also guests at their incredible wedding and there shortly after the arrival of their baby son, Gabriel.

It is with great sadness that I write this, something I could never envision doing. When we return to the village in early April, there will be no more visits with him, but he will certainly live on in my memory and in my heart as well as in those of my children, whose friend he was also…..we loved you, Arnulfo…….

MAY – Pre-Columbian Designs

Serpent and Jaguar by Isaac Vasquez
Serpent and Jaguar by Isaac Vasquez


Jaguar and Heart - Triumph of the Spiritual over the Mundane
Jaguar and Heart – Triumph of the Spiritual over the Mundane


In celebration of spring in Taos, New Mexico, Starr Interiors is featuring Pre-Columbian images from one of its finest collections of weavings. Starting back in the seventies, we acquired what has to be the most extensive collection under one roof of the work of Isaac Vasquez, internationally renowned Zapotec Indian Master Weaver.

This feature piece of the Serpent and the Jaguar was done by him shortly before he appeared at Starr Interiors some years ago where we held an exposition of his work. It was and continues to be an honor to show the work of this famed weaver. The pieces being shown this month encompass images from various Zapotec codices including the Borgia, Dresden and the Nuttal codices. Their intricacy and detail go far beyond what most people associate with Zapotec weavings. These represent an art form at its finest and we are delighted for the opportunity to present this show.

Dancing Jaguar
Dancing Jaguar

Meeting don Isaac so many years ago was the beginning of a long relationship and we are extremely proud to be able to represent this outstanding collection that has spanned decades. Along with the late don Emiliano Mendoza, these two men produced some of the finest art weavings their village has ever known.

Pre-Colombian Maya Design
Pre-Colombian Maya Design

Included in this show are Vasquez, Mendoza and several other outstanding Zapotec weavers.


We are now offering for sale our museum quality private collection of these weavings. There are about fifty pieces in this collection and we will sell them as a group or individually.

According to Susanna Starr, Starr Interiors owner,

“This amazing collection of some of the finest weavings to have ever been produced in the Zapotec Indian village of Teotitlan del Valle is now being offered for sale, either as a complete collection or by the individual piece. They were produced in the late nineteen sixties and early nineteen seventies by three master weavings.

Emiliano Mendoza, who passed away in 1990, wove some of the finest interpretations of images from various ancient codices, primarily the Borgia codex. The complexity of each piece and the perfection of their execution reflects the pride and dedication of this important weaver and outstanding human being, honored in his village as Mayordomo.

His son, Arnulfo, a master weaver in his own right, worked with his father to produce what could be deemed the most valuable piece ever to have come out of the village. Measuring 9’4”x9’4”, this piece is done in angora wool, in the finest detail possible on a loom. It is the Ritual Sequence from the Borgia Codex. His own weavings from the seventies are taken from his original paintings in his own distinct style, but done with the same amazing attention to each detail.

Isaac Vasquez, another acknowledged master weaver is also represented in this collection. Now in his eighties, he is not weaving much any more. His work, however, appears in many collections and has received recognition for many decades both in the United States and Mexico.

I started collecting these weavings individually over a period of about ten years during the nineteen eighties knowing, even at that time, that they would never be done again. They were never woven for the mass market but, rather, as an artistic expression of the individual master weavers, being sold to collectors who could appreciate their intrinsic value.

The many pieces of the Mendoza family were acquired gradually and I remember vividly purchasing the original images of Arnulfo’s paintings that he had given to his father, don Emiliano, who decided to sell them to us under very emotional circumstances. He obviously was very proud of them and they were especially meaningful to him.

Now the time has come to divest myself of this amazing collection and, for the first time, offer them for sale as a complete collection or on an individual basis. They are a treasure, as they tell the story of ancient cultures of the Americas before the arrival of the Spanish. The codices that inspired these weavings are the only ones to have survived the Spanish conquest, the others being burned. To have them interpreted in these amazing textiles has been a labor of love, probably never to be duplicated individually and, definitely not, as a complete collection.

The Zapotec Indian culture goes back many thousands of years. Many of the temples that they built are still standing, the most notable, Monte Alban in Oaxaca. They have produced enduring work in metal and stone, gold and silver, and jade. These tapestries represent a continuation of recorded art in fiber.”

An example of this fine work was done by the late Emiliano Mendoza and his son Arnulfo. The piece, woven in alpaca wool, took a few years to complete.

Image from Borgia Codex 9'4" x 9'4" by Emiliano and Arnulfo Mendoza
Image from Borgia Codex 9’4″ x 9’4″ by Emiliano and Arnulfo Mendoza

You can contact us at for more information.

It’s spring here in Taos, New Mexico and viewing this outstanding collection would be an excellent excuse for a trip here.