Texture of the Centuries

Indigenous blouses, better known as huipiles, in Oaxaca, Chiapas reveal as much as they hide. They tell a tale of fertility, enchantment and seduction with the intricate design using the colors of the world.

The Making of Tradition
These indigenous women take textiles and transform them into huipiles to enclose the secret of the Mesoamerican universe. It all starts with the drawing onto a manila paper using pencil to calculate the measurements making a homemade pattern, it takes great skill and knowledge to materialize one. Then after the pattern has been drawn the women then creates the designs that will be hand stitched after the fabric has been cut, these designs symbolize the mysteries of the female, from the flowers, to the cloth the women use to cover their torsos exude fertility.

The Meaning Behind the Color
Oaxaca is the precise location of the exceptional artisan designs of Mesoamerica and current Mexico today. With the secretes of the trade dating back to the Maya civilization. Huipiles are used for daily use and more intricate ones for weddings. “gala” or red huipil is used for upper class weddings, the tradition also goes as far as to after the extravagant dress is worn for the wedding, it is carefully put away until the women has passed away to use for her funeral.

The Exploitation by Fashion Designers
In the past few years high end fashion designers have been appropriating ingenious designs for high fashion. Two designers in question are French companies Isabel Marant and Antik Batik who claim to own the patent of the embroidered blouses. Owning the patent means the indigenous people of Oaxaca who make and sell these huipiles would have to pay a copyright to these designers to sell their ancestral garments. Meanwhile the high end designers will make a huge profit and exploit these women and their culture for fashion. The people of this community are enraged and are currently in a lawsuit with the French designers.


Cite this Page:

Maria Bozic , “Texture of the Centuries,” HistoricalMX, accessed November 24, 2017, http://historicalmx.org/items/show/119.

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