They don’t make Huaraches soles as thick as these anymore. Huaraches “Tres Vueltas” from just outside the Central Market in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas.
Forgive me if you find this is a bit of a mash-up post, re-cycling already published images of Huaraches. However the information I picked up on a recent trip to Chiapas was too good not to share.
I have already posted about “Caites, the Evolution of Pre-Hispanic Footwear?“, but have recently found out how to buy them if any readers are interested in getting their hands on centuries old footwear design.
For anyone interested in “Caites” and considering buying a pair the first thing they should know is that they aren’t called “Caites”. In Tzotzil they are called “Cuch Chac Xonobil”, “Xonobil” meaning shoe.
Secondly ”Cuch Chac Xonobil” are mostly made to order and usually take about a week to make, so give yourself time to make the purchase.
The easiest way to order a pair of “Cuch Chac Xonobil” is to visit the Sunday morning market in San Juan de Chamula just outside San Cristobal de Las Casas. Once there you will see on one side of the central Plaza the “Alcaldes” town leaders in traditional dress including “Cuch Chac Xonobil”.
Photo Via ‘Popular Arts of Mexico’, by Kojin Tonyama
And on another side just below the “Chamula” statue a group of Huaracheros like the ones below selling Huaraches.
Photo By Sean Sprague and Via Mexicolore
You can ask one of these Huaracheros if they will make you a “Cuch Chac Xonobil” for the following week.
The starting price is a steep 500-600 Pesos which I think you can barter down. At the same time I only saw the town leaders wearing ”Cuch Chac Xonobil”, so maybe the high price is justified by their exclusivity.
Nevertheless if lowering the price isn’t possible consider ordering a traditional pair with an all leather sole made with the traditional 7 layers as shown in the photo above, instead of the modern rubber sole version. Make sure the also heel curls upwards.
Although a recognized word, Huaraches in Guatemala are mainly known as Caites or Xajab’.
Apab’yan Tew a reader of Huarache Blog kindly sent a link to great photos from his personal collection of Guatemalan Xajab’ and Caites.
His Mexican footwear collection also includes Caites from Huixtán, Chiapas and some Raramuri ‘Pata de Gallo’ Huaraches.
Thanks for sharing Apab’yan Tew.
Don Salvador and Fernando Cisneros Huaracheros from Concepcion de Buenos Aires had this interesting Huarache in their ‘Taller’. A few years ago they were asked to make a series of copies of it for a client, but they knew little more about it except that they thought it came from Guatemala. The design is very interesting as could be one of the first woven Huaraches, marking a transition between the ‘Pata de Gallo’ and modern day Huaraches.
If any readers have seen this kind of Huarache before, please comment on this post so an place of origin and date can be found for this mystery Huarache.
Edit – Thanks to Rigo a reader of Huarache Blog, it turns out these sandals are called Cutarras and are from Panama. Introduced to Panama by the Spanish, Cutarras are still made the same way as early Huaraches were probably made; woven on the foot and not on a last.