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TNTP Encyclopedia of Global Textiles

One of the key elements that has come to define my style both at home and in my closet is the incorporation of global textiles. Artisans across the globe have been crafting colorful fabrics and woven goods for centuries and thanks to the glory of the internet, these textiles have now become key decor elements beyond their native regions.

I’m a total sucker for dyed, embroidered and woven goods that originate everywhere from Thailand to Mexico, so you’ll be seeing a lot of them here on the neon tea party. I thought it would be fun and helpful to provide some background on these textiles so that 1.) you’ll know what the heck I’m talking about on the blog and 2.) you can incorporate them into your own homes and closets.

Here we go!


The Hmong people are an ethnic group that inhabit the mountainous regions of  China, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. Hmong textiles, or flower cloth in the Hmong language, vary depending on the region and include indigo batiks and colorful accordion pressed weaves. Today you’ll commonly find accessories like pillows and tote bags crafted from Hmong fabrics.


Ikat is a resistance dying technique often used on silk and canvas fabrics to create elegant floral- or tie-dye-like patterns. Many cultures across the globe utilize this technique in their textiles. Nowadays, you’ll commonly see ikat fabrics used in various home accents such as furniture and throw pillows.


ikat chairs from anthropologie


Kilim refers to a style of flat tapestry-woven rugs native to Turkey and parts of the Middle East. These gorgeous rugs come in infinite patterns and color combinations, and often have an American Southwestern vibe to them.


Moroccan wedding blankets, or handiras, are thick, off-white tapestries woven from wool, cotton and linen, and decorated with metal sequins. Traditionally, they are woven by a Berber bride’s female relatives and worn by the bride during her wedding ceremony. Nowadays, they are found in many Western homes and are often draped over a bed or couch, or hung as a wall decoration.


Originating from Mali, mudcloth is a thick fabric made from woven cotton and decorated with geometric patterns. These patterns are etched onto the base fabric using fermented mud—hence the name. Black/white and indigo mudcloths have become particularly predominate in Western decor, while more traditional Malian patterns feature earthy browns, yellows and other natural tones.


mudcloth pillows from the style eater on etsy


The Otomi people are native to central Mexico and are known for their colorful embroideries depicting scenes from nature. Otomi embroideries often feature animals, flowers and plants and generally just make people happy.

P.S. Be sure to check out the Homepolish link below – that house is the definition of goals.


One of my all-time favorite textiles are serapes or thick woven Mexican blankets, which often feature brightly colored stripes in various widths. These throws are excellent for picnics, easily spruce up a couch or bed, or can be used as furniture upholstery.


image via @eva.loyola


Shibori is an ancient Japanese form of tie-dye that most commonly uses indigo dye. These fabrics feature various dye patterns created by all sorts of cool dying techniques. Be sure to check out HonestlyWTF’s DIY shibori tutorial, one of my all-time favorites.


image via bloesem living


Originating from Central Asian countries like Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, suzanis are colorful embroideries of silk and/or cotton that often feature large floral-like patterns. Like Moroccan wedding blankets, suzanis were traditionally crafted in honor of a couple’s nuptials.


image via the jungalow // by danae horst

It’s truly amazing that our ever-expanding global world culture has granted us access to such gorgeous traditional artisanship like the textiles listed here. These fabrics and other handcrafted goods have sparked a global decor phenomenon–and frankly, I can’t get enough.

Are there any global textiles you love that aren’t listed here? Let me know in the comments below!

peace, love & neon,


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