Countries Mexico Traditional Dress & Textiles Traditional Textiles

Purépecha Style, An Indigenous Identity Stitched With Pride

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The Purépecha are an indigenous group of people located in Michoacán state Northwest of Mexico city. They speak their own language and reside predominately in the foothills of the Sierra Madre Oriental mountain range on a volcanic plateau surrounded by forests and lakes.

The women of this region dress in a style soaked with Spanish influences and stitched with stories of folk life.


Two young ladies wearing their fiesta fashion for a traditional wedding in the Village of Angahuan. The ladies dress aprons display an elaborate about of frills, colourful flowers and commercial metallic lace.




The Purépecha people were a considerable pre-columbian civilization that maintained their independence from Aztec Empire despite numerous failed conquest attempts. It wasn’t until the 1530s when the Purépecha were eventually overruled by the Spanish conquistadors and their armies.

Despite being converted to Catholicism the region has managed to maintain it’s rich traditional customs, as well as it’s reputation for producing folk art and fine crafts. Copper, carpentry, painting, ceramics and textiles have been traded by the same towns for over a thousand years, making Purépecha products some of the finest and most sought after in Mexico and beyond.

The Purépecha people have a well earned sense of passion and pride about their artist ancestry and culture. This can be witnessed on the local women who strut their textile skills daily on their traditional dress.


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A proud Purepecha women stands outside her home in the village of Cocucho showing off her fuchsia velvet apron covered in lily and love heart punch needle motifs.


Close up details of the punch needle embroidery which is created using a hollow needle that creates loops much like that used on rugs.


Inside a Purepecha women’s bedroom the walls are adorned with handmade aprons and skirts which have been covered in plastic bags to project them from dust in between wears.


Purépecha women have a distinctive ethnographic dress adapted from Spanish influences which is recognised today as the Purépecha style.

Rebozo – A long rectangular piece of fabric around 2 meters in length and 1 meter wide woven on a back strap loom. The rebozo is an integral and essential part of a Perepecha women’s daily ensemble as it is used for protection against the sun, keeping  warm on cooler days and for carrying children or other small items.  Traditional striped designs are unique to the Purepecha Rebozo.

Delantal – An ornamental apron worn as an fashionable accessory, not for protecting ones garments underneath. Usually made of gathered or pleated horizontal panels narrowing at the waist and tied at the back with a connecting belt. Perepecha aprons differ in design from village to village and depending on the occasion.  Lace, lurex, sequins, cross stitch,  frilly boarders and fleur de lis motifs are common characteristics of this ornamental piece.


Traditional Purépecha delantal featuring bold floral machine embroidery (left) and hand cross stitched fleur de lis with scalloped lace boarder (right).



Blusa
– One of the styles often referred to as the (derogatory) “Mexican Peasant Blouse”, this charming garment is comprised of simple small rectangular panels sewn together (often by hand) and with short sleeves that sometimes have a draw string hem. 
Cross stitch designs often made by the women wearing the blusa are the primary focal point which largely feature motifs of flowers, birds, baskets and other elements from village life. 

Falda –  A calve-length skirt made from 10 meters or more of knife pleated fabric. The majority of the skirts are made from commercial satin, but more more contemporary and somewhat kitsch versions using sequin fabrics are seen at fiestas and special events. Each skirt takes around 8 hours to make.

 


A mother and daughter stand outside the doors of a local church in Cocucho wearing their rebozo, blusa, aprons and pleated skirts.


This cross stitched blue bird and red rose dress apron took months to make by hand.


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Lady in a local taco diner happily displays her hand cross stitch blusa.


Ten meters of one inch deep knife pleats are machine stitched under the waist panel to make this skirt. The zig zag ribbon details have been appliquéd onto the fabric before pleating.


Two ladies wearing their distinctive pleated skirts share a rebozo to shield themselves from the midday sun.


The back of a young women’s more contemporary falda which incorporates silver foil fabric insert.


A lady protects her head from the sun with her rebozo whilst attending to the graves of loved ones during the Dia de Muertos festival on Janitzio Island. Cross stitched kittens decorate her blusa and the bold fleur de lis motif featured on her apron is a common design worn by the women living here.


A lady from Janitzio Island co-ordinates her finest collection of hand made pieces together to look their best during annual Dia de Muertos event held every year at the local grave site.


Purepecha women prepares the family grave stones with marigolds whilst wearing a (almost) matching floral ensemble of her own.


The bold and beautiful cross stitched Fleur de lis (French for Flower of the Lily) design used to decorate these aprons are distinctive of the Purepecha women on Janitzio Island.


This unique travel opportunity and insight into Purepecha women’s style was supported by Tia Stephanie Tours during the Day of the Dead festival in October & November 2017, to find out more and participate, about this unique experience click here.

 


Have you been to Mexico? Did you see any unique traditional dress or textiles on your travels? Please share your experiences, ideas and suggestions on where to go in Mexico in the comments box below.

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Sue
    December 3, 2017 at 3:57 am

    Museo Textil de Oaxaca has an excellent collection of traditional textiles and I also saw a brilliant contemporary exhibition there in 2016.

    • Reply
      Donna
      December 3, 2017 at 4:24 am

      Yes I went there too, it was great

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