. Limited edition silk screen on paper
Published by Pocohontas Press, Chicago
1941, 16"h. x 13"w. 
Eight separately printed colors

SOLD: 04/27/08

  Yalaltecs of the State of Oaxaca
  San Juan Yalalag is situated across the Sierra de Ixtlan de Juarez, to the northeast of the state's capital, in the region of the Zempoaltépetl. Despite the inroads of European civilization, the villagers have preserved certain tribal traditions, particularly those pertaining to the women's attire.

The Yalaltec dress, pictured in Plate 16, consists of two parts. The xapa cuyuchi skirt is a length of coarse white cloth, about two or three yards long and a yard wide, draped around the body from the waist down. The white huipil is kimono-like, and has short, full sleeves. The ornament of the huipil consists of colored ribbons around the yoke and over the chest, and some embroidery in silk running vertically at the sides.

This costume is completed with a very peculiar headdress. After the hair has been combed with pixtle, a preparation made from the seeds of certain tropical fruits, which makes it beautifully black and lustrous, it is parted into two sections and wound around the head. Into it then is braided a tlacoyole, a roll made of ten or twelve strands of black or dark blue yarn, about three yards in length. The effect is that of a turban. Once this strange headdress is completed it lasts as long as six months. The Yalaltec has it for a pillow upon retiring. None of the other tribes of Oaxaca uses a headdress in any way resembling this. Although certain features of dress have been freely adopted by one tribe from the other, this strange headdress has remained peculiar to the Yalaltec women.

Carlos Merida

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