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TRADITION

OF

REBOZOS

TRADITIONAL REBOZOS

The Rebozo is an article of protection, and as an intrinsic part of national female identity in Mexico, can double in price prior to Mexican Independence Day each year.  As rebozos are used to carry babies, produce, to ward off the sun, protect from the chilly mountain breezes, show respect to God in church, then ultimately used as a shroud in death, they are valued as part of one's identity in a life-sense. 

Rebozos are passed down through families, and are worn for different occasions.  Cotton rebozos are worn for daily tasks, while wool rebozos are reserved for winter.  Silk rebozos are worn on special occasions, with some being so fine, they can slip through a wedding band.

The origin of the rebozo is unknown, though anthropologist suspect a fusion of cultural traditions during the early Colonial period is what birthed the rebozo.  The word hails from a Spanish verb "to cover or envelope oneself," but has various names in indigenous languages.  Known to the Maya as a Chala, or in Nahuatl as ciua nequealtlapacholoni, rebozos mimic the tilma, which was worn by the Mexica peoples of central Mexico, and the ayate, which was an abrasive cloth of maguey used for carrying goods.  

 Anthropologists remain intrigued weavers in Mexico and Indonesia developed something called Ikat technique, prior to having any knowledge of one another.  The word Ikat is most commonly correlated with the resist techniques employed in Indonesia, and is often a surprise for collectors when they learn this skill has long been utilized in Mexico.  The process for making Ikat involves bundling long threads, then wrapping various segments tightly before dying the lengthy bundle.  The tightly wrapped portions resist the dyes, which is why this technique is also called "resist" technique.  Batik and Ankara are also made using "resist" technique, though it's an application of wax that allows the covered material to resist the dyes.  Most Ikat rebozos are made from cotton or natural rayon.  If you want to test whether or not a natural rayon rebozo is authentic, ask the seller to light the ends on fire.  Natural rayon will burn - but synthetic rayon will shrink into a ball at the slightest exposure to open flame.  Touching the fringe of a natural rayon rebozo with flame for a demonstration does not harm the piece - in fact, most rebozos have such long fringes, collectors often trim the ends to suit their preferences.

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