Local Material Makes A Comeback For Home Decor

henequen drying in the sun

Using henequen in your home

For most residents and owners of properties in the area, you have to furnish them. It might be for a rental or for your own use. In both cases there are design challenges that can be overcome with this local fiber called henequen. 

Challanges that people face in decorating locally

The climate, how people use spaces, and how homes are constructed all present challenges to people looking to decorate and furnish their properties. Here are some of the challenges that can be overcome with the use of henequen. 

  • Most homes/condos are concrete with tile floors. This can make then echo or feel a little cold feeling. Using rugs and lamps made form henequen can help absorb sound and give nice natural tones to your space. 
  • Rental properties take a beating. Owners will want to use durable materials and will hold up to a lot of use. Henequen comes to the rescue again as it is very durable. 
  • Since the climate is humid and living close to the beach invites sand to be tracked in, most people avoid rugs because they are hard to clean or do not hold up. Henequen rugs can be cleaned fairly easily and hold up in the climate unlike other cotton-based rugs. 
  • Rental properties need to stand out in the market. Having a unique local piece of art that is also a functional piece of your design can accomplish two things at once. 

Other benefits of using henequen

Incorporating henequen into your home decor can infuse a unique and rustic charm into your living spaces. Henequen’s natural, earthy tones and coarse texture make it an excellent choice for adding a touch of the Yucatan’s rich cultural heritage to your interior design. Henequen can be woven into beautiful rugs, placemats, and table runners, bringing a touch of authenticity to your dining and living areas. Its durable fibers also lend themselves to creating striking wall hangings or decorative baskets, providing both functionality and aesthetic appeal. Whether you opt for henequen accents or more substantial decor elements, this versatile material adds a sense of warmth and character to your home, making it an excellent choice for those seeking a distinctive and eco-friendly design element.

What is henequen?

Henequen is a fibrous plant native to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, primarily known for its long, sturdy, and flexible fibers that are extracted from its leaves. The plant, scientifically known as Agave fourcroydes, resembles a succulent with spiky, sword-shaped leaves that are up to two meters long. Henequen has been cultivated for centuries, and its fibers have been traditionally used for various purposes, including making ropes, twine, textiles, and other durable products due to their excellent tensile strength and resistance to environmental conditions. The plant’s resilience and adaptability to arid and tropical climates make it an essential agricultural resource in the Yucatan, with a significant historical and economic impact on the region.

Henequen plants
The henequen fields at the Hacienda Sotuta de Peon.

Why is henequen so good for use in this part of Mexico? 

Henequen, a versatile and sustainable natural fiber, is an excellent material for use in the Yucatan region for several compelling reasons. First and foremost, henequen is native to the Yucatan Peninsula, making it readily available and environmentally friendly, as it requires minimal water and pesticides to cultivate. Its robust and resilient nature makes it well-suited for the Yucatan’s climate, as it can withstand the region’s tropical heat and occasional hurricanes.

Henequen’s exceptional durability and strength make it an ideal choice for various applications, including rope and twine production, textiles, and even construction materials. Furthermore, its historical and cultural significance in the Yucatan adds to its appeal, as it reflects the region’s rich heritage. Overall, henequen’s local availability, adaptability, and historical relevance make it a valuable and sustainable resource for the Yucatan.

Visiting Izamal to buy products of henequen

Izamal is a town in Yucatan state that is close to where a lot of the original haciendas were that grew henequen. Since this material is available locally, there are artisans working with henequen to create products that can be used for today. Here is a brief video we made for you to show you some of the products and where to get them. 


Shopping in Izamal

One of our favorite places in Izamal for henequen products is Raices Maya. They have two stores in Izamal on the same street. Sometimes one is closed when there are less tourists in town. Their second location is called La Casona de Izamal and there you will also find a restaurant (Tip: This is a great place for a good breakfast!). 

The name Raices Maya refers to the roots in the Mayan culture and history of using henequen. Mayans used henequen for rope, nets, and bags in the past. Going back to the roots, means reinventing the usages for today’s world. Raices Maya specializes in rugs and lamps made for the material, but also have placemats, animals and other small objects made from it as well. The website for Raices Maya is here. You can get a better feel for some of their products and just how nice these things can look in your home. 

Tip: They have a warehouse of different colors and sizes of rugs. If you need something custom made, expect one to three weeks. If you get a rug with a border, make sure the color is not light because it will show dirt. 

henequen lamps
Izamal is a good place to look for lamps, rugs and other products from henequen.

Liquor of henequen

Also, an interesting note on henequen products, you can also buy bottles of liquor made from it. Since henequen is a type of agave plant, just like where tequila comes from, you can find a similar product. We will say it is not as popular for a reason and is best to buy the better quality henequin liquor because the cheap stuff will not give you a good introduction to it. 

You can find the liquor in the gift shop of Kinich Restaurant and other gift stores, but we prefer the liquor store in the corner of the main square. There is a large counter with lots of types of liquor behind it, including liquor of henequen. 

What else to do in Izamal

Izamal is a charming colonial town that has enough restaurants and unique hotels to keep you busy for a couple of days. The town is unique because almost all of the center is painted yellow and is dotted with ancient Maya temples. We have a guide to visiting Izamal here

For more local home decor shopping…

Besides visiting Izamal for henequen products, the road between Tulum and Coba is a great place to visit. Here is a guide to that area and what you can find there

If you plan to work with local carpenters for furnishings, see our article here with lots of tips on how best to get what you want. 

Local shopping
Pots for plats are one of the things you can find on the Tulum Coba Road.

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