Forgot your password?  

Resources for students & teachers

Frederick Starr
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 409 pages of information about In Indian Mexico (1908).

CHAPTER XIII

ABOUT TEHUANTEPEC (1899)

Since our former visit to Tehuantepec, that hot and dusty city had suffered terrible misfortune.  Through a period of several months it was subject to frequent shocks of earthquakes; for a time these were of daily occurrence, and on one occasion there were seventeen in a single day.  The town still showed the destruction produced by these earthquake shocks, although for some months past there had been none.  Houses, stores, churches, all presented great cracks and bare spots from which plaster had fallen.  Many of the people had left the city permanently; those who remained were completely discouraged and unwilling to spend trouble and money in the repair of their houses.  Tehuantepec is, of course, a city of considerable size; situated on a railroad, it has lost its importance since that thoroughfare was constructed.  It was, formerly, the natural point through which all the produce of the surrounding country passed; the railroad has given similar opportunity to other places, to the loss of Tehuantepec.  Between earthquakes, the damage resulting from the railroad, and the location of the military forces at Juchitan, not far distant, the town is declining.  It is still, however, the cabecera, and the jefe is a man of some force and vigor.  Shortly after our arrival, I visited his office, delivered the governor’s letter, and stated our purpose in visiting his city.  He seemed interested, and at once stated that there would be no difficulty in carrying out my plans; that I would find plenty of women for measurement in Tehuantepec itself; that the 100 men had better be secured at San Blas, which, although independent in government, adjoins Tehuantepec.  I suggested that it would be well to measure the women in the court-yard of his palace; he, however, replied, “By no means; it will be much better to go directly to the market, where the women are gathered in great numbers; a regidor will accompany you to arrange the matter with your subjects.”

Although convinced that his plan was bad, we arranged to begin work the following morning; with instruments and regidor we presented ourselves in the market, picking out a suitable spot and preparing for work.  Then I told the regidor to bring a subject.  The market-place was crowded, probably two or three hundred women being there gathered.  Approaching the nearest of them, the regidor politely asked her to step up and be measured.  We were not, however, dealing with Triquis.  The women of Tehuantepec are certainly the heads of their houses; the men occupy but an inferior position.  Possibly, they are really larger than their husbands, but, whether that be true or not, they give that impression to the spectator.  The lady indicated lost no time in assuring the regidor that she had no intention of being measured, and he returned crest-fallen to report results.  He met

Follow Us on Facebook