Sunday, February 21, 2016

the huipil in Mexcio

self portrait with thorn necklace by Frida Kahlo  1940
Frida Kahlo expressed her love of country by wearing national costume. This blog post is about the Mexican huipil.
huipil 1964   Oaxaca, triqui culture  cotton and wool tabby, broocade
Huipil : Mexican tunic
huipil 1964   detail 
huipil  1950  Oaxaca
Huipils are simple garments made with rectangles that have been woven on a loom worn by the weaver.
backstrap loom
The photos of textiles in this post were taken at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto in November 2015.    That exhibit is on until May 2016.
detail of  complex pictorial weaving   - supplementary thread brocade

huipil 1945-1950  very rare  Oaxaca Zapotec culture. weft-wrap open work
 All the textiles in this post were in glass museum cases which explains the quality of these photos.
detail of weft-wrap openwork.  the openings are created by wrapping the horizontal threads around the vertical ones
three huipils
huipil with supplementary thread 

detail  - is this embroidery or weaving?
blouse 1964 
 Blouses have now replaced the huipil in most communities in Mexico.
the indigo is running stitch, the red is "whirl pool" pattern done with sewing machine
After the Spaniards arrived, heavily embroidered blouses were preferred.  They are made from factory produced cloth.
self portrait with monkeys by Frida Kahlo 1940  
These portraits of Frida are of her wearing blouses.

self portrait with small monkey   Frida Kahlo  1945


  1. I have one from a friend that requires some stitching to put it back together, and I cut an old stained one up for that same friend whose mother it had belonged to and put it together as the bib and shoulders of a new garment for that friend. These are SO beautiful!

  2. I own a number of them, all bought in Mexico, from several different regions. The decorations on some are all hand embroidered with straight stitch done in such a way that most of the thread shows on the front of the fabric. Several others are designed with motifs woven into the fabric as it is constructed. some are hip length others knee or a little longer. All go fabulously with a shirt and skit or pants beneath. I never travel without one particular one - highly versatile from pool coverup to dressing gown or out to dinner over black pants and shirt. If you google there are heaps of images, and some wonderful YouTube videos including one that explains the meanings of motifs.

  3. grazie per questo post molto interessante sulle tessiture e le camicette

  4. To complement the huipul ... the rebozo and its influence on contemporary fashion was the subject of an exhibition at London's fashion and textile museum a couple of years ago -

    Frida Khalo is associated with the popularity of the classic shawl, too. That exhibition is travelling in Mexico at the moment.

  5. Yes, Margaret. At the museum in Toronto, a self portrait of Friday wearing a rebozo was featured, along with several examples of rebozos. So beautiful. The knotted and knitted fringes on those shawls is an art form in itself.

    Also the antique serape - men's cloaks - were included in the museum exhibition and I photographed them as well. Made in the mid 1800's. Gorgeous.

    Mexico has a wealth of textile traditions.

    Thanks very much for your interest and comment. x

  6. The tradition of these rectangular back-strap woven pieces of cloth made into simple garments can be found in Guatemala as well. A lot of designs that look like embroidery are actually floating threads incorporated into the weaving as it goes along. Wonderful, and with so little equipment.


Thank you for taking the time to connect. Much appreciated.xx