Yucatan.s traditional dress and its progression

The evolutionary history of the typical dress of the Yucatan

There have been many influences, including Arabic, over the passing years that have created the many changes of the typical Yucatan dress of the women and also of men.

The rebozo, shawl as we know it, of Santa Maria, is included in one of the most popular Jarana dances and used as an emblem. Until 100 years ago it was not a part of the clothing’s of the mestizos yet in changing it was used to cover the head. The rebozo was actually brought from Puebla in the time of Porfurio Diaz. It was one of the last elements to enhance the dress.

The origins of dress were a simple sack like square sewn together with openings for the arms and neck. It lacked a lot of what we now have become to know, the typical dress.

The prehispanicas, the indigenous women walked topless and only dressed in a skirt most of the time. It was the Franciscan monks that insisted the skirts be lengthened and a top should be worn.

Lithiograph of Catherwood showing the typical attire of his era

With passing of time the textiles became much finer and they began to adorn with embroidery. The clothing has passed many stages

The terno was to become fashionable around 1847 during the war of the cast system and was influenced by pomp and ceremony of the time.

The style of the the terno had been narrowed,widened,lengthened,shortened and also a time when the style was known as minihuipil. This design of dress was embroided around the neck area and the bottom. Sometimes a skirt was added to elongate but usually adorned with lace or crochet style lace

After came the embroidery and Brussels lace to make it more elegant. It was then when the costume of the mestizos began to take shape as we know it now.

A Metiza wearing the tradicional huipil with robozo in hands

They then added a doublet,  that goes over the shoulders and it became a terno. Again the terno is a sack shape rectangular piece of material with openings for arms, neck and head. The doublet was then embroided as well as the bottom of the dress. To this was added a skirt called a justan which falls from the waist tied with a belt down to mid calf or  now the most popular form is elastic . Now it seems the fashion is to go full length to the ankles. Again,which is added a line of embroidery

There was a time when the embroidery made references to the local fauna, animals etc and one could tell from which area came the ladies. But now again this has changed and fallen f rom fashion to be replaced by only flowers.

Again the style is changing from the laborious embroidery came the machine embroidery .Some of the designs would surpass your imaginations due to the intricate work. Another fashion creeping in is the art of painting the designs onto the fabric. A much faster way, but sadly the art of embroidery will be lost in the next generations.

The huipil is usually worn during the day again a sack like dress with openings for the arms and head .Most often the neck area is in the form of a square shape to which embroidery is added  and also around the bottom.Again a shorter justan (skirt) is sometimes worn underneath with a crochet border or maybe a lace border that shows just below the huipil . Not as intricate as the terno but still they can look very elegant.

one of my huipil that I like to wear in the hot weather as they are so comfortable.
The black and white design is known more in the area of Campeche

.Now you will not see the young ones wearing the traditional dress during the normal daily life only a few of the older ladies still will wear them in the village here of St Elena.The young ones of course are going for the more modern look saving the elegant ternos for special occasions or traditional fiestas.

Part of this information was taken from the Yucatan daily known as the Diario de Yucatan .If you are interested in reading more, albiet in spanish you can check on the comments for the link.

About thepickledonionyucatan

Born in England emigrated to Canada and now reside in the Yucatan Mexico. LIfe is a journey so enjoy as much as you can
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6 Responses to Yucatan.s traditional dress and its progression

  1. mcm says:

    Nice article — and I’d like to add a couple of comments.
    It looks like you’ve translated, and made some additions to, the article on this topic published in the Diario de Yucatán — for those interested, here is a link to the original: http://yucatan.com.mx/imagen/que-linda-mestiza and to an accompanying article on the evolution of the traditional male outfit: http://yucatan.com.mx/imagen/lucha-por-lo-autentico
    The information for these articles, written by Iván Canul Ek, was provided by Carlos Acereto Canto, director of a cultural center in Mérida, director of the museum of Mexican Dress of the Mexican Institute of Arts and of the Folk Ballet of the Autonomous University of Yucatán, and an expert on the topic.
    Also, your explanation of the the terno is a little confusing. My understanding, both from my own observations and the article, is that it’s a three-piece outfit, consisting of the jubón (doublet) is worn over the hipil, and the justán is an underslip (like a half slip), which is worn under the hipil and extends below the hem. Most women who wear the hipil for their everyday wear also use a justán, though less elaborate than when used as part of the terno, but the terno would be the more elaborate ”party” outfit, which consists of the three pieces, with the separate jubón.
    Please let me know if I have it wrong!

    • Thank you Marc for the link to the diario de Yucatan for all those who are interested and yes this is where some of the information comes from .
      Yes I confused the terno with huipil which I seem to do all the time!!! Must be my age.
      The terno is in three pieces the dress with the doublet sewn in and the justan the skirt that falls below the dress and as mentioned the fashion is to fall to the ankles.I have edited my blog to reflect the correct terms
      Again thank you for pointing this out.

  2. Heather says:

    Very interesting history lesson, Valerie. We have always admired the huipiles but knowing their origin makes it much more fascinating. Thanks so much.

  3. Fantastic web site. Plenty of helpful information here. I am sending it to a few pals ans also sharing in delicious.
    And certainly, thanks for your effort!

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