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Textile Fiestas of Mexico

By Sheri Brautigam

In the truest sense, as a designated Pueblo Magico de Mexico, the town of Cuetzalan is just that, a magic town! High in the hills of the state of Puebla, it is a lush, humid place, full of beautiful flowers, orchid farms, epiphytes hanging in the trees, and luscious vegetation. The winding, narrow, stone-covered streets and plastered white buildings with red-tile roofs feel like the romantic old Mexico that we’ve dreamed about.

Book Presentation and Slide Show
Textile Fiestas of Mexico
Sponsored by Abrazos San Miguel
Fri, Jan 20, 6–8pm
Ignacio Cruces 4
Colonia Independencia
Tickets free with book purchase at Abrazos or 100 pesos book presentation

The farthest out of the Textile Fiesta sites, it is worth the effort it takes to get there. This is especially true the very first week of October, when the Feria de Cafe y Huipil is held. This is a fiesta celebrating the main economy of the area, coffee cultivation, and the local traditional Náhuatl culture with the crowning of the Queen of the Huipil.

One of the most attractive events of the week-long event, this is a competition for the young girls from neighboring districts for the title of the Reina de Huipil (Queen of the Huipil). The lovely part of this Feria is that most of the local women and girls will be wearing this costume during the festivities, and you will then have an opportunity to observe the high quality of their blouses, belts, and quechquemitles on the plaza, in the main cathedral, on the streets, and in the artesian market.

There seems to be a strong interest in passing on the traditional dances, originating in colonial time, to the younger generation. Los Negritos, Santiagos with miniature horses at their waists and the red, long-nosed Santiaqueros soldiers, and Los Quetzales, who dance in lines with huge headdresses representing the Quetzal bird’s showy plumage, are but a few of the local traditional dances that may be performed. Accompanying them are often their own drummer and fife players. These are the oldest of musical pre-Hispanic traditions found in Mexico.

The main feature is always the voladores, four to eight men who climb a very tall 60-foot pole, with the corporal/leader performing a focusing prayer standing on the minuscule one-foot-square platform. He plays a little reed flute and drum at the same time, the haunting sound preparing the flyers who then lean off their perch and, with a strong rope tied to their waist/hips, give in to the force of the circling platform and off they fly—upside down, slowing to the ground. Sometimes they extend their arms like ecstatic drunken birds, other times a second flyer will descend untied down their same rope, doubling the risk and the visual impact. All in all a thrilling visceral and sacred experience for the voladores and spectators alike.

There is a permanent Mercado de Artesanías (across from the Casa Cultura) which has several rows of small stores. Here most of the well-known artisans will have their wares. Francisca Rivera Perez—discovered by British textile author Chloe Sayer and featured in her Mexican Costumes books—has a stall in this market. and her work is very collectable.


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