Bertha Estrada Huipe,
A rebozo is a long straight piece of cloth which looks like a cross between a scarf and a shawl. Lake ponchos, huipiles and sarapes, they are classic Mexican garments and are made of straight, mostly uncut cloth. The rebozo is classically a woman's garment, traditionally hand woven, distinguished by complicated finger woven fringes called the punta or rapacejos. Colors and patterns vary widely and traditional designs can usually identify where it was made. For example, a tightly woven black and indigo version is identified with Ahuiran in the mountainous area of the state of Michoacán.
For generations, the women of Ahuiran, Michoacán have woven
the classic indigo rebozos with black and blue pin-stripes. Bertha
learned the art of back-strap loom weaving, or patakua in Purépecha.
Bertha Estrada Huipe began her apprenticeship at age ____, and dominates all the facets of the process, including the knotted fringe at the ends called rapacejo.
There are only a handful of rebozo weavers left who use the ancient back-strap loom called a telar de cintura or telar de
otate. Since they can only make one rebozo at a time, the work is costly and time consuming but, it allows for originality in patterns and the rebozo is always one-of-a-kind.
Bertha creates rebozos with the feathered trim in the tradition of her ancestors, using turkey, rooster and bird feathers that are either natural or dyed with local plant tints. Three thousand threads of fine cotton make up the warp of her finest rebozos. It can take two or three months to weave the cloth, then another two months to hand-knot the elaborate fringe of the punta.
The process of tying the rapacejos or trim is done by the empuntadoras. The rapacejo is a complicated and meticulous task, comparable in difficulty to handmade lace. The quality of a good rebozo depends a lot on the
manual skill and creativity of the empuntadoras. Each rapacejo takes about twenty days or ore. The length of the process depends on the size of the rebozo and can take up to four months per piece.
Mariano Matamoros #119
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