Dresses of Veracruz, Mexico

Two dresses from Mexico’s Gulf Coast

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The state of Veracruz is named for the city of Veracruz, a major sea port in Mexico founded by Hernán Cortez. Not only did Cortez land in Veracruz, but French and American invaders of Mexico did as well. The crescent shaped state stretches 400 miles along the Gulf of Mexico making it vulnerable to sea attack. While Veracruz city is considered the most “Spanish” of Mexican cities, the state is home to the remains of many Olmec, Totanac, and Huastec cities and an active modern-day Indigenous population.

The Nahuan women from the Veracruz village of Amatlán de los Reyes are famous for their silk embroidered huipiles. The huipil is actually made of a single piece of linen, folded in the middle and sewn up the sides. Starting from the corners of the square yoke are embroidered 8-petaled, star-shaped flowers. Twelve colors are used in the whole garment. Signs of wealth are the great chains of coral alternating with silver coins worn by the women.

The women of Papantla, Veracruz, once wore hand loomed, embroidered skirts made of wool. They discontinued their handiwork over 60 years ago because the lucrative vanilla industry meant they could buy fine fabrics. Now these beautiful skirts are only seen at important festivals and in museums. Over an embroidered cotton blouse they wear an embroidered scarf tied around their necks and tucked into a belt. They wear a quechquemitl on their head as a veil or over their shoulders.

These outfits are part of a larger exhibition, Hilos de Tradicion: Dresses of Mexico, showcasing Mexican ensembles collected by the Brownsville Pan American Round Table beginning in the 1930s.

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Dresses of Veracruz, Mexico Artifact from Brownsville, TX
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