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Regional Dress of Latin America in a European Context

Patricia Rieff Anawalt

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Latin America and the Caribbean 2005

Encyclopedia entry

A collision of cultures occurred at the time of Spain’s sixteenth-century conquest of the two great empires of the Americas, the Mesoamerican Aztecs of central Mexico and the Andean Inka of today’s Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. Latin America’s present-day traditional dress—the distinctive, non-Western-style clothing still worn by many Central American and Andean Indians—is an amalgam of New World indigenous apparel and Spanish Colonial–period peasant attire: Two contrasting concepts of clothing con

Overview of Central America

Blanco F. José

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Latin America and the Caribbean 2005

Encyclopedia entry

Central America comprises the seven nations sharing the isthmus connecting North and South America. The northernmost country in the group is Guatemala, followed by Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. Recently independent Belize is the only country where English is the official language. Spanish is the dominant language in the rest of the countries, although over seventy other tongues are spoken in the region. A diverse geography has provided a rich source of fibers and natur

Ancient Maya

Matthew Looper

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Latin America and the Caribbean 2005

Encyclopedia entry

The Maya civilization, particularly during the Classical period (250–900 c.e.), provides some of the most extensive evidence for dress in the ancient Americas. Sculpted, modeled, and painted images portray the rituals and myths surrounding prestigious status. Generally, only durable materials survive. Elite burials provide the most significant remains; there is considerably more information on prestigious ritual dress than on clothing in other contexts. Maya dress generally changed little, and ma

Mixtec Hairstyles

Holly Parker

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Latin America and the Caribbean 2005

Encyclopedia entry

In current Western society, the hairstyle that a person chooses is a reflection of the personality of the individual who wears it. Other cultures do not necessarily see their hair the same way. In ancient Mixtec culture, religious or social beliefs seem to have been the deciding factor as to the hairstyle that one wore. Ancient Mixtec hairstyles are depicted in the Codices Nuttall and Selden, providing evidence that some aspects of Mixtec hairstyles represent varying levels of status, as well as

Overview of Mexico

Chloë Sayer

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Latin America and the Caribbean 2005

Encyclopedia entry

Mexico is one of the richest archaeological zones in the world. Extreme variations of climate and vegetation have influenced human evolution over long periods of time. Stone carvings, terracotta figurines, murals, and painted manuscripts reflect the evolution of the textile arts and show that ancient peoples developed varied styles of clothing and adornment. Highly stratified societies imposed strict clothing restrictions. After the Spanish Conquest of 1519, Spanish settlers introduced new materi

Women’s Hair Sashes of Mesoamerica

Carol Ventura

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Latin America and the Caribbean 2005

Encyclopedia entry

From pre-Hispanic times through the present, traditionally attired Mesoamerican women have not cut their hair. The hair sash that is wrapped around or interlaced through their flowing locks is often elaborate and symbolic. The methods of wearing hair sashes (also known as headbands, or cintas in Spanish) and their width, length (sometimes more than 20 yards long), fiber, texture, color, and decorations vary through time and from town to town. In fact, the styles of this essential accessory are so

Mixtec Dress

Robert Lloyd Williams

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Latin America and the Caribbean 2005

Encyclopedia entry

The production of textiles and clothing began in Mesoamerica long before the Common Era. Textile production was highly elaborated and was of primary economic and cultural importance. The Mixtec Indians of Oaxaca illustrated their own culturally identifiable clothing types in pictogram books called codices (singular, codex) of which five major examples survive. Mixtec clothing types were also typical of types used by other ethnicities in Mexico and Central America, but with their own culturally di

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