In Indian Mexico (1908) eBook

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

Tehuantepec is meanly built; it is hot and dusty, and the almost constant winds drive the dust in clouds through the streets.  But its picturesque market is a redeeming feature.  Every morning it is crowded and presents a brilliant and lively spectacle.  All the trade is in the hands of women, and the Tehuantepec women have the reputation of being the handsomest in the world.  They are large, finely-built, and in their movements exhibit an indescribable freedom and grace.  Their natural attractions are set off by a characteristic and becoming costume.  The huipilili is a little sleeveless waist, loose at the neck and arms, and so short that it rarely reaches to the waist-line, to which, of course, it is supposed to extend; it is of bright cotton—­red, brown, purple, with stripes or spots of white—­and is stitched at the neck with yellow silk.  The enagua, or skirt, is a strip of heavy cotton cloth, less than a yard wide, which is simply wrapped around the figure and hangs from the waist, being held in place by a brightly colored belt or girdle.  The enagua is usually a rich red, but it is sometimes a fine violet purple.  It reaches but little below the knees.  It generally fails to meet the huipilili above, so that a broader or narrower band of fine, dark brown separates the two garments.  Nothing is worn on the feet, which are exposed, as are also the finely shaped and beautifully developed arms.  But the most striking article in the Tehuantepec woman’s costume is her huipil, which travellers usually describe as a head-dress, although it is nothing of the kind.  It is in reality a waist-garment with sleeves.  It is made of lace or cotton, or linen, and is bordered at the neck, the sleeves, and the lower margin with broad ruffs of pleated lace.  Only at church or on some important or ceremonial occasion is the huipil worn as it was meant to be.  Usually at church the wearer draws the garment over her upper body, but does not put her arms into the sleeves, nor her head through the neck-opening, simply fitting her face into this in such a way that it appears to be framed in a broad, oval, well-starched border of pleated lace.  Usually, however, the garment is not even worn in this manner, but is turned upside down and carelessly hung upon the head so that the broad lower fringe of lace falls back upon the hair, while the upper part of the garment, with the sleeves, the collar, and cuff-ruffs, hangs down upon the back.  The whole effect is that of a fine crest rising from the head, coursing down the back, and moving with the breeze as the woman walks.  These Zapotec women are fond of decoration, but particularly prize gold coins.  In the past, when Tehuantepec was more important than now, it was no uncommon thing to see a woman in this market with several hundred dollars in gold coins hanging to her neck chain.  In these later days of little trade and harder times, these once prized decorations have been spent, and it is rare to see any woman wearing more than twenty to fifty dollars as display.

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In Indian Mexico (1908) from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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