The rebozo has been known since the Conquest, it is believed to be a product of miscegenation. Throughout its history this feminine garment has been made by Mexican artisans. It is one of the most recognized traditions. “Nowadays it is being lost,” says Lupita Zepeda, an expert on the subject, and adds: “because people have reduced it to something folkloric, but they forget that for many years it was a basic garment for humble and aristocrats. There was a rebozo for every occasion: for the market, church, work, children, parties. It is part of our symbols and we have lost it”.
The elaboration of a rebozo is totally handmade, because there is no machine for the finished ones, the women who make them take many hours to finish them. Like many other artisans, they do not even earn enough to eat. Lupita Zepeda, who was born in Guadalajara and lives in Ajijic, is an entrepreneur and has been in the rebozo business for 20 years. She not only promotes the use of this garment through her lectures around the world, but also sells rebozos from all over the country. “When I came into this world I did it wrapped in a rebozo from Santa Maria, that my father had given my mother to carry me, at five years old I appear in a photograph wrapped in my rebozo, since then my passion for this garment of love and emotions. It is not only fabric, it is an embrace, something that covers us with beautiful designs and colors, made by the hands of tireless women. My goal is for it to be recognized as something fashionable. I show how there are hundreds of ways to wear them.” Lupita, whose business is called Paño de Sol, has dedicated herself to helping indigenous women artisans who are high in the mountains, in the most remote places and seeks them out and gives them money so they can produce, pays them well for their work and not only that she helps them in other ways and promotes them by taking them to national congresses and fairs. “We have to recognize their work and not haggle them on the price of their goods. There are very fine works that are expensive and we have to learn to value them. The rebozo is not for dressing up as a Mexican during national holidays, but to wear it at other events with pride of wearing a beautiful handmade work.”
This garment is made of various materials such as cotton, silk, rayon and various blends and there are several regions in the country famous for its creations, the most famous is Santa Maria del Rio, in San Luis Potosi and also in Michoacan. Before the arrival of the Spaniards, the Indians used the “ayate” made of maguey fiber, which was used to transport children and objects. It was the antecedent of the rebozo, which with the conquest received the influence of the Spanish mantilla and the Manila shawl. At the end of the 16th century, the rebozo was worn by all Mexican women without distinction of class.
To learn more about the rebozo and its history, consult Lupita Zepeda, Paño de Sol, who tells us that this tradition needs to be brought back into fashion.
Ilsa Picazo, originally from Mexico City, has lived in Ajijic for 20 years, is a journalist and writer. She has published three books, Mujeres de Trece Lunas (Women of Thirteen Moons), Atrévete a Ser Mujer con M Mayuscula (Dare to be Woman with a Capital M), and Ondine y Su Otra Vida, (Ondine and Her Other Life).
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