The typical costumes of Yucatan are an important part of the traditional Mexican clothing and were born as a result of the native and European mixture that occurred in the peninsula. Yucatán is a Mexican state located in the southeast zone. Together with the states of Quintana Roo and Campeche, it forms the Yucatan peninsula.
It is an area originally inhabited by the Mayan civilization , dating from 2000 BC. After years of expeditions, in 1542 the city of Mérida was founded, today the capital of Yucatán. The initial population was 109 Spanish expeditionists, who, away from their wives, began the process of miscegenation with the women of the area.
The colonial society was divided by caste. At the top of the hierarchy were European-born Spaniards. Second, those children of Spaniards born in America. In third place were the mestizos, who were born from the mixture of Spanish and indigenous. And lagging behind in fourth place were the native peoples.
For centuries, the mestizo people were rejected among Yucatecan society, but the reissue of the Constitution in 1820 was the first step to erase the dividing lines between the peoples. From then on, the mestizo culture and customs began to represent an important part of the Yucatan that we know now.
The clothing of the mestizos is perhaps the most significant cultural heritage of this people for the identity of the state of Yucatan. The traditional costume of the Yucatecan mestizo is one of the most recognized in Mexico and its cultural value has transcended artistic representations of all kinds.
Typical Yucatecan costumes, a mestizo tradition
By gaining visibility and representation, the mestizos perfected their gala dress, today part of the traditional dress. These suits were used at weddings and important events.
Like its wearers, the typical costume of Yucatán represents the indigenous and Spanish tradition in its shapes and colors.
The costume of the mestiza
The typical costume of Yucatecan women is known as terno, since it consists of three pieces of white color embroidered in cross stitch with floral designs: a doublet, a hipil and a fustán.
It is the garment that goes over the top, is worn over the shoulders and reaches below the bust; It has a square neckline that reveals the neck and the upper chest area. Its cut is almost square and its short sleeves reveal most of the arm.
This garment goes below the doublet and above the fustan. It is attached to the doublet from the neck and reaches the middle of the leg. Its cut is similar to that of a dress and is the largest garment of the entire compound.
It is the garment of the lower zone. It fits from the waist and reaches the feet. For the most part, it is covered by the hipil and only its embroidery stands out.
This set is made of white silk and its colorful cross-pointed brocades date back to pre-Hispanic times, which at that time were made on a loom.
In a manuscript by Fray Diego de Landa in the middle of the 16th century these garments are described, used by the Mayan women of the peninsula.
The embroidery design ( xokbil-chuy for its name in Mayan) changed over the years. After colonization, the Catholic nuns introduced new styles of embroidery and floral designs in the European way that are still used to this day.
Accessories and footwear
For a long time the suit was of daily use, but after the acceptance of the mestizos in Yucatecan society, their clothing was adorned with gold and silver jewelry; in this way the suit would become a garment suitable for galas and dances.
The women wear rosaries around their necks and gold necklaces with beads and medallions. They are accompanied with gold earrings and precious stones. The hair is gathered and decorated with a ribbon and a flower headdress.
Mestizo women’s shoes must always be white. It is a closed shoe with a lock and has a straight heel, practical for dance days. The material of these sneakers is usually leather, patent leather or a fabric lining.
The mestizo costume
Before the Conquest, the Mayan peoples that inhabited the peninsula used to carry most of the body discovered. It was until the introduction of wool and silk by the Spanish that their clothing changed drastically.
The men were forced to wear shirts and other European clothing items, but due to the climate of the area, a light color was chosen. Now, the mestizo’s suit is an iconic white outfit.
It consists of a white long-sleeved cotton shirt, white straight-cut trousers with front and back pockets. The mestizos of higher classes usually fasten their shirts with gold buttons. As a complement, a red handkerchief is also hung from one of the side bags.
An indispensable part of the outfit is the hat, called jipijapa or palmilla because of the material from which it is made. The manufacture of its materials dates from pre-Hispanic times, as a fundamental part of the Mayan culture is basket weaving, the technique of weaving with natural elements (plants and fibers).
The jipijapa is a hat with a brim manufactured using this technique. It was created in 1872 and it became very popular; Its preparation became the main source of work for the inhabitants of the eastern region of the Yucatan peninsula. At present it is used decorated with a black ribbon.
The quintessential mestizo men’s footwear are the chillonas, an espadrille made of leather or felt. They are thick, as they are made up of four or five layers of leather and the finish of its sole with plugs in the heel emits a squeak when dancing, hence its name.
Two belt loops cross over the instep and fasten behind the ankle. This footwear is made by saddlers in the area, its color can be white or brown and they have decorative embroidery. Because it is a fresh and accessible option, the chillona is an essential element for Yucatecan clothing.
In addition to the typical costume used by the mestizos, a characteristic garment of the Yucatan peninsula is the guayabera. Originally Cuban, the cotton shirt, light colors and wide pockets, arrived in Mexico in the late 1800s, brought from the island by a Spanish navigator.
For a long time it was considered as a garment for the upper social classes, but over the years it became popular among the population. The guayabera is today a distinctive symbol of Yucatan, as it has been redesigned and reimagined by the garment makers of the area.
Themes of interest
Typical dances of Yucatán .
Traditions and customs of Yucatan .
Yucatan culture .
- Government of the State of Yucatan (sf) Los Mestizos de Yucatán. Yucatán – State Government. Recovered from Yucatan.gob.mx
- Government of the State of Yucatán (sf) Typical Costume. Yucatán – State Government. Recovered from Yucatan.gob.mx
- Government of Mérida (sf) Typical Costume. Mérida City Council. Recovered from Merida.gob.mx
- Ricárdez, C. (2014) Know the identity of the Yucatecan regional costume. Millennium News. Recovered from Sipse.com
- Yucatán Today (sf) Typical Garments Worn By Mestizos. Yucatán Today | Traditions. Recovered from Yucatantoday.com
- Yucatán Travel (2016) The Guayabera: A Traditional Yucatecan Iconic Clothing. Yucatán Travel Blog. Recovered from Yucatantravel.com