"Shortly after the birth of a baby girl,
she was brought spinning and weaving utensils to be symbolically instructed on their use.
When a woman felt she might be nearing death,
her everyday work implements were often thrown into the fire
so they would await her in the afterlife"(...)
"Indigenous garb generally had simple lines,
although the textiles themselves had elaborate design.
Generally speaking, garments were fashioned without cutting the cloth;
a certain number of rectangular panels were stitched together to create the desired form,
so the costumes had greater variety in color, texture, and ornamentation than the basic components."
(from the magazine Arqueologia Mexicana n.19)
Huipil (from the Nahuatl word huīpīlli) is the most common traditional garment
worn by indigenous women from central Mexico to Central America.
It is a loose-fitting tunic, generally made from two or three rectangular pieces of fabric
which are then joined together with stitching,
ribbons or fabric strips. Leaving an opening for the head and,
if the sides are sewn, openings for the arms.
Traditional huipils, especially ceremonial ones,
are usually made with fabric woven on a backstrap loom and are heavily decorated
with designs woven into the fabric, embroidery, ribbons, lace and more.
Lengths of the huipil can vary from a short blouse-like garment or long enough to reach the floor.
The style of traditional huipils generally indicates the ethnicity and community of the wearer
as each have their own methods of creating the fabric and decorations.
Corinna Carrara interviewed Anthropologist Nancy Chamorro
about the essence of the huipil for Mexican women.
(Spanish, english translation below).
C.C. - Good morning, we are here today with the anthropologist Nancy Chamorro Castillo from the Peubla University of Mexico.
Nancy good morning how are you? Can you give us your definition of the traditional Mexican dress for women, called huipil?
N.C. - Hi! The Mexican huipil represent a symbolic and sacred concept that pass through the feminine clothing.
This feminine dress is very important in Mexico because it incorporates traditions that we are losing.
The huipil is the herency of an ancient history from pre-Hispanic times and therefore it is very important that women in Mexico still dress it.
We can say that the huipil is made up of different sacred symbols and different iconography that show the worldview and ideologies of each village. The worldview that the woman carry with them.
The huipil is shaped by two parts, the front and the back, these two part togheter making the dress that is long and normally only used with nothing more.
We can say also that the huipil is very important in Mexico because the woman dressing in the huipil represent a hierarchy in every community and in every locality, because now, in the modern time, this traditional clothing is already starting to disappear. And through the herency of techniques passed on, such as the technique of the belt loom, the art of embroidery and the dyeing of fabric, we can release our Mexican traditions.
C.C. - What you are wearing today is a huipil, right? Or is a modern variation?
N.C. - Yes, it is a huipil made by the belt loom technic from Pinotepa Nacional, in the region area of Oaxaca, Mexico.
C.C. - So we can see on the sides, the red lines, near the arms, if you can show the sleeve... there is a line of attachement beetwen the front and the back part.
N.C. - Yes.
C.C. - Thank you so much Nancy, now we have a much clearer idea about the huipil, and are able to share this nice concept around the world to save the traditions. Because losing the traditions we lose ourselves.
Thank you very much I wish you a nice day Nancy.
N.C. - Gracias!
MY PERSONAL CONNECTION WITH MEXICO,
BY CORINNA CARRARA
In 2014, I spent a year in Mexico.
Fascinated by its Mexican spiritual traditions,
I discoverd sacred places and ceremonial tribal traditions.
I traveled through many different regions:
Chihuahua, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosi, Hidalgo, Morelos, Puebla, Oaxaca,
Veracruz, Tabasco, Chiapas, Yucatan, Quintana Roo and into Guatemala.
This experience influenced me to create a series of paintings inspired by the old Mexican philosophy
about the duality trancendence, Parallel 11. For more information on this project view HERE.
During these travels I became captivated by the beautiful tribal patterns worn by the people all around me.
The Mexican textile tradition is very rich and the ethnic diversity is incredible.
In Chichicastenango, Guatemala is where everything started,
I bought some second-hand ethnic fabrics, which I cut and make into a personal interpretation of the huipil.
I love wearing this style tunic. It is comfortable, feminine and elegant.
As it doesn't show body parts, it beautifully enhances the face.
THE MEXICAN VILLAGE
In 2015, after a stay in Europe and New York,
I had a great success with my personal clothes I had made.
I decided to return to Mexico to make my first collection for CORA.
I opened my studio in the small village of San Juan Tlacotenco 2350 meter high,
in the region of Morels, a few kilometers from the capital.
A very quiet place up the green mountains just above the Tepozteco pyramid.
The following videos show the house I lived in and
life in Mexico between the studio and the center village.
THE MEXICAN STUDIO
The door of the studio faced the street...sometime chickens came in seeking food...
sometimes incredulous people from the village came to see how it was going.
I was working most of the time in this village with my talented artisans.
I was able to learn more deeply the Mexican spirit,
sharing together the pleasures and pains of my personal challenge.
Through collaboration, experimentation, dedication and hard work, the first collection was created.