Freshness is Not Eternal Huipil

Freshness Is Not Eternal

One morning while sitting in the kitchen searching for meaning in life, I noticed that the oranges in the fruit bowl were getting mushy. The firm plumpness they had when I bought them had disappeared. With this realization, I had an epiphany —life is ephemeral so I needed to get up and get with the program before it was too late.

This huipil was made from pieces of white cotton stitched together to be used as a canvas for a drawing made with water-resistant markers. Hand-painting, appliqué, and hand-stitching are used to further embellish the huipil. The back of the hupil is a patchwork of colorful fabrics.

The model, Chiara Pilar, is also wearing a paper bead necklace and a bracelet made from  pen caps.

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Δώρο/gift Huipil dress

In Greek, “Δώρο” means “gift” and what better gift can nature give us than that of spring? And to celebrate spring, I made this huipil dress using a tulip filled  secondhand t-shirt for the bodice. The body of the dress is made from a piece of white cotton covered with drawings of a woman holding a flower.  She is just waiting for someone she can give it to.

Δώρο huipil dress

Δώρο huipil dress

Δώρο huipil dress

Δώρο huipil dress

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Frida Kahlo & Miyako Ishiuchi

Japanese artist Miyako Ishiuchi takes photographs of clothes.  She began doing so after her mother died. Miyako’s mother had a strong personality and lived in a time that went through numerous metamorphoses. By photographing her mother’s intimate effects such as lingerie, shoes and cosmetics, Miyako examined the memory she had of her mother. Because clothes give us an identity.

Frida Kahlo's Clothes by Ishiuchi Miyako

A few years after photographing her mother’s belongings, Miyako began a new project: Yokosuka Story.  She started photographing the personal objects of those who’d lost their lives in the American bombing of Hiroshima treating the objects just like a saint’s relics. Thus the victims are seen as martyrs. Objects like combs, watches, and shoes are the only things left of a life obliterated by a bomb.

Frida Kahlo's Clothes by Ishiuchi Miyako

After Frida’s death, Diego Rivera had her wardrobe with all her personal belongings locked up. It was kept this way for 15 years after his death.  But it wasn’t until 2011 that the contents of the wardrobe were photographed. And it was Miyako Ishiuchi who was selected as photographer photographing the clothes was like photographing a person.

Frida Kahlo's Clothes by Ishiuchi Miyako

miyako-4-b

“If I met her, I wouldn’t ask any questions. I would only want to stare at her and touch her body.” Japanese photographer Ishiuchi Miyakois talking about Frida Kahlo.

Miyako Ishiuchi and Frida Kahlo

Miyako Ishiuchi and Frida Kahlo

Bibliography:
Frida by Ishiuchi. Ishiuchi, Miyako; Trujillo, Hilda; Ankori, Gannit; Henestrosa, Circe. Museo Frida Kahlo. Mexico City. 2014.

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Tejuana matrifocal society

Ixcatlan Huipil

Frida frequently wore the dress typical of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Because  women of the area were extremely beautiful, sensual and  gutsy.

In 1922, José Vasconcelos became minister of public education.  He firmly believed that, instead of looking towards Europe, Mexican artists should look towards Tehuantepec and Juchitàn for inspiration. With Vasconcelos encouragement, Diego Rivera visited the area. The artist was overwhelmed by the beauty of the landscape.  And of the women.

Tejuana matrifocal society

Because the women of Tehuantepec tranquilly bathed naked in the river, foreigners who came to visit mistakenly interpreted this to mean that the women were sexual libertines thus attracting more foreigners to the area.

With its Zapotec origins, the Isthmus of Tehuantepec is considered a matrifocal society mainly because it is the women who are in charge of the commercial activity. Men work in the fields whereas women sell in the market place.

Tejuana Matrifocal Society

Working the Fields

Daily, women of the area wear full-length skirts called enaguas  along with their huipiles known as huipiles de cadenilla.  In Spanish, cadenilla means “chain” as the machine embroidered gold threads in geometric shapes hope to create the illusion of the gold chains the women like to wear. For special occasions, huipiles de fiesta are worn.  They generally are embellished with hand embroidered flowers.

The special huipiles are worn to velas, highly animated fiestas which begin as candlelight vigils honoring one of the areas various patron saints and end as night-long parties.

Tejuana matrifocal society

Tejuana matrifocal society

Men at the Vela

At velas, men drink beer while women dance together especially to “La Zandunga”, a Mexican waltz reflecting a mixture of musical origins (it could be a Zapotec interpretation of an Andalusian song). The song is about a Zapotec woman who cries after her mother’s death.

At velas women wear their huipiles with pride.  And only women wearing huipiles and enaguas dance.

Tejuana Matrifocal Society

More than matrifocal,  the Tehuantepec society is a maternal society. And for this reason, women are a dominating force. Because it’s the woman, and not the man, who psychologically focuses on the well being of the child.  For men, working in the fields is a way of avoiding domestic problems.

It is also matrifocal in that girls are taught to be economically independent. In part because mothers know sons are more prone towards crime and drugs than are their daughters so they will be able to depend more on daughters than on sons. Well, save for gay sons who are considered a gift.  Because a Tehuantepec woman know she can always count on a gay son to be there in need.

Because they have an important role in society, the Tehuantepec women have a strong sense of self-assurance.

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Copyright © 2016 Cynthia Korzekwa. All Rights Reserved

 

Bibliography:

Covarrubias, Miguel. Mexico South, the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. New York. Knopf. 1946.
DeMott, Tom . Into the Hearts of the Amazons: In Search of a Modern Matriarchy. University of Wisconsin Press. Madison, WI. 2006.
Iturbide, Graciela. Juchitan de las mujeres. Edicioes Toledo. Oaxaca. 1989.
Poniatowska, Elena. Here’s to You, Jesusa! Penguin Books (reprint). London.  2002

Triqui Women and their Huipiles

In a mountainous region in the southwestern part of Oaxaca known as La Mixteca Baja live the Triqui.

The Triqui practice bride price, that is, the exchange of women for money or commercial goods. This patriarchal treatment of women as property has been interpreted by some to be like slavery or prostitution. And the women have started to rebel.

Triqui Woman

In recent years, La Mixteca Baja has become increasing violent provoking people to leave the area and with it the indigenous Triqui language spoken only in Oaxaca.

The difficult terrain and lack of water limit agriculture. So, to boost the economy, the indigenous people have turned to crafts. They make baskets, morrales (handbags) and huipiles.

Using traditional weaving methods, the Triqui women make incredible huipiles using primarily red threads. Huipiles are made only by women and worn only by women. They are made with backstrap looms which means that the width of the fabric and three strips are sewn together to make a huipil. It takes four-six months to make a typical huipil.

Triqui Women & Red Huipiles

A huipil is full of symbolic figures such as butterflies, pines, birds, jugs, etc.  The ribbons that adorn the huipil symbolize the rainbow.

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Copyright © 2016 Cynthia Korzekwa. All Rights Reserved

Related links:  Triqui woman finds freedom weaving huipiles + Triqui de San Juan Copala (Spanish) + El Huipil Triqui de Chicahuaxtla

Huipiles & Me

At The Alamo Wearing My Huipil

My mom moved to San Antonio, Texas as a young woman and instantly fell in love with the city’s bi-cultural flavor. In fact, my mom wanted to be Mexican. She loved Mexican music, colors, jewelry, food and attitude. That’s why she went to Mexico as often as possible. And, like a loving mom, she would always bring back presents for me – papier-mâché dolls, hand puppets, earrings (I had pierced ears!) and Mexican blouses. That’s how I started wearing huipiles.

Juana y Pedro

But later, like most adolescents, I wanted to conform to fashion trends – bell bottoms, mini-skirts, t-shirts and jeans, etc. My tastes in clothing continued to change and huipiles were not a priority. Then I moved to Italy and, after awhile, I began to feel nostalgia for my Mexican imprinting. So, luckily, my mom sent me huipiles. Now, I can’t imagine a wardrobe without them.

Drinking Tequila with Frida

Thanks to Frida Kahlo’s popularity, huipiles have acquired interest among contemporary fashion followers. But, although she wore them in grand style, it was not Frida who invented the huipil.

Lady Xoc

Huipiles were worn by the indigenous Indians of Mexico as documented by Mayan lintel carvings showing a bloodletting Lady Xoc wearing a huipil (c. AD 709). And the Spanish conquistador, Hernán Cortés, used a native woman, La Malinche, as translator who, as seen by codices documenting events of the time, show her wearing huipiles – 500 years before Frida!

La Malinche

Traditional huipiles are beautiful. So if you are lucky enough to be in Mexico or Guatemala, be sure to shop for at least one huipil. The simplicity of their design makes them adaptable for any body type.

Why Not Wear A Huipil?

(originally posted HERE )

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Copyright © 2015 Cynthia Korzekwa. All Rights Reserved