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.
Vincente Torres Perez and Jacinto Lucas De La Cruz are the last remaining Huaracheros in Atoyac, Jalisco.
The Huaraches in Atoyac have the distinctively pointed soles. Srs. Torres and Lucas make many styles and their most popular are the “Tejido” in the “Finito” (fine weave) version.
The “Tejido Sencillo” Huarache with the “Fuerza” strip of leather on the toe.
And the “Tejido Sencillo” Huarache.
They also refurbish old Huaraches, something I have never seen before. In this case the customer wanted to keep the original leather sole and an new upper was woven into it.
All their Huaraches are made using the same traditional techniques using wooden mesquite lasts.
Many Huaraches are also made to measure.
All the strips of leather are softened in oil and water and left to dry overnight before weaving.
The workshop “Taller” where Don Vincente and Don Lucas work is about as authentic as it gets.
A cool open space with adobe walls and a thatched roof, old wooden tools and vegetable tanned leathers abounding.
They still had a child’s version to the traditional field Huarache the “Alcapoyo”. This Huarache style is one of the oldest and simplest styles. The likely successor of the “Pata de Gallo” and the design bridging that to the complex woven ones we see today.
For orders Don Vincente and Don Lucas can be reached at the following number: 413.841.0215
FIRST ARRIVALS – The úkata “Cien Clavos” by Huaraches Martínez – The Finest Work Huaraches in MexicoPosted: March 11, 2013
BACK IN STOCK!
úkata is proud to offer their first Huaraches for sale.
The “Cien Clavos” Huaraches are made by José Martínez from the small town of Mazamitla, nestled in the pine covered hills of the Sierra Tigre in Southern Jalisco. José Martínez is continuing in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, making the same traditional Huarache designs. A true craftsman, he works alone finishing one, or sometimes 2 pairs per day, while organically tanning his own leathers using mimosa tree bark.
The “Cien Clavos” or “Hundred Nails” design is so called because of the many nails used in the sole. The character of the “Cien Clavos” isn’t trend driven so you’ll never grow tired of this unique Huarache design. The Huarache upper unlike that of other footwear will only get better with age, as the vegetable tanned full grain leather slowly forms to your foot shape and gains a rich golden honey patina over time.
Made in the traditional Huarache way, the ”Cien Clavos” is entirely hand cut without cutting dies. The upper is lined using a pedal powered leather sewing machine, after which it is nailed to a wooden mesquite last where it is hand woven into the insole using only a single strip of leather cut from the center of the hide. A continuous leather strip that is cut and skived freehand and yet with incredible precision from years of practice. The sole is made from a reclaimed truck tire which José Martínez thins down, cuts and washes before nailing to the woven Huarache upper (the nails provide a very strong hold so no glue is used to join the sole). Unlike other Huaraches, the “Cien Clavos” has a closed heel which was originally used for horse riding, and the vamp partially covers the toes which makes the Huaraches an interesting shoe/sandal hybrid.
The “Cien Clavos” Huarache is a signature Martínez design and is made in very limited quantities. You will not find market or souvenir huaraches of a comparable quality and design. Nor will you likely find footwear crafted by the same artisan who also tans their own leather anywhere in the world.
Introducing Señor José Martínez the Master Huarachero and maker of the one of a kind “Cien Clavos” Huaraches.
By purchasing úkata Huaraches, you will be championing talented Huarachero artisans for their incredible handmade footwear, that is also gentle to the environment and deep rooted in Mexican history.
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Because sometimes Huaraches can also be for scrolling.
A new Huarache Blog Tumblr page for old and new images of traditional Mexican Footwear, from Huarache Blog and from the web.
Check out http://huaracheblog.tumblr.com/
According to Mexican designer Alejandro Curi every year 25 million vehicle tyres are thrown away in Mexico alone, of which only 5% is recycled. The former FIT design student saw the great potential of re-purposing such a high quality and abundant material and so developed the Kwarachi Machine.
Kwarachi Machine is project where press and sole cutting dies would be placed in marginalized and impoverished areas around Mexico, where many still cannot afford shoes. Such a set up would provide locals with a basic resource that they could use to make their own Huarache Footwear, but which they could also use to make Huaraches to start a small business and generate income.
The idea of providing a common use cutting press and cutting die is interesting because it could provide unskilled craftspeople a tool to create a quality cut sole. This is would be especially valuable today as most Radial tyres have steel wires running through them, making hand cutting with a knife impossible.
For the past 3 years Huarache Blog has been documenting and promoting the craft of Mexican Huarache footwear. This year I will also be developing a specialty e-trade business to offer more immediate support to the craft of Huaraches.
Introducing úkata, an online Huaracheria selling only the best Huaraches in Mexico. Rare designs crafted by the most talented Huaracheros. Timeless Huarache styles that have been made the same way by the artisan and his family for generations. Footwear with a low environmental impact, made with naturally processed and recycled materials.
Click back in February for a more detailed post on úkata and to visit the online store.
Durante los últimos 3 años Blog Huarache ha estado documentando y promoviendo la artesanía de los Huaraches Mexicanos. Este año voy iniciar un negocio de comercio internet para ofrecer un apoyo más inmediato a los Huaracheros y a la artesanía de los Huaraches Mexicanos.
Presentando úkata una Huaracheria en línea de los mejores Huaraches en México. Huaraches excepcionales hechos por los mejores Huaracheros.
Si algúno Huaracheros talentosos quieran vender sus huaraches en el internet, por favor pónganse en contacto con Huarache Blog escribiendo un comentario con sus correo eléctronico en la parte inferior de este artículo (Enter your comment here…).
Don Miguel is a car mechanic and part time Huarachero.
Because making Huaraches is currently a low paying and unstable profession to be in, as with many talented Huarachero’s in Mexico Don Miguel has had to look for work elsewhere.
But in his spare time Don Miguel still continues weaving leather Huaraches as he has been doing for the last 60 years.
The small farming town of San Gabriel sits on fertile plains just North of the Nevado de Colima. Market day is on Monday when the locals stock up with their week’s supplies. The market however doesn’t sell Huaraches. For those, the people of San Gabriel go to the workshop of Manuel and Ramon Rodriguez the last remaining Huaracheros in San Gabriel.
Their ‘Petatillo’ Huaraches design has a regional brick weave design different from the ‘Petatillo’ Huarache from the southern Guadalajara area.
The ‘Aranita’ Huarache.
The ‘Aranita’ Huarache design comes in different leather weave thicknesses depending on use and price.
Another ‘Petatillo’ Huarache variant.
A ‘Zapatilla’ Huarache.
And two ‘Petatillo al Reves’ Huaraches.
All of the Rodriguez’s Huarache designs also come in children’s sizes.
Women’s styles include the ‘Mariposa’ Huaraches
and the ‘Cadena’ Huaraches, all made strictly from one continuous leather weave.
San Gabriel makes a nice day trip especially on Monday market day and while you’re there be sure to visit the Huarache workshop of Manuel y Ramon Rodriguez a few blocks from the central plaza at:-
San Gabriel, Jalisco
For orders and further information contact Manuel y Ramon Rodriguez Blas at Tel: 343.427.0298.
Nestled into the Sierra Norte mountains of Oaxaca is the small town of Yalalag.
Yalalag is very precious World Heritage site, not only for it’s strong Pre-Hispanic traditions, but also because like only a handful of other small towns in Mexico, most of the Yalalag population is still dedicated to the traditional craft of Huarache making.
Huaracheria Aquino is the largest ‘Taller’ workshop in Yalalag and they are well known for their high quality Zapotec Huaraches.
What also sets this family run business apart from most other Huarache makers in Mexico is that their crafting process begins at their in-house tannery, where they vegetable tan all their leathers to their precise specifications.
Huaracheria Aquino is famous for their traditional women’s Zapotec Yalalag sandals (the only existing traditional women’s leather sandal/huarache style in Mexico).
Photo of young Zapotec Woman in Mitla, by Guy Stresser-Péan, 1957
Their ‘Tejido’ Huarache also stands out for the fine attention to detail.
And the ‘Cincho Forado’ Huarache is the finest of its kind.
Interestingly the seemingly modern thermoplastic coated “Oscaria” leather which is very popular in this area of Mexico has been used for over 40 years.
Inside the Aquino ‘Taller’ workshop hangs a framed picture of the Aquino Great-grandfather and founder of Huaracheria Aquino.
It’s not uncommon for Huaracheros to still use lasts that are over 80 years old. The wooden lasts are made of Mesquite not only because it was once the most readily available material with which to make lasts, but because the Mesquite does not expand very much from contact with the wet leather.
Most Huaracheros still prefer using wooden lasts to plastic because they say there is reduced bounce when ‘asentando’ (hammering to flatten the leather upper to the last) .
To contact Huaracheria Aquino directly please visit their Facebook page, or email them at email@example.com.
Señor Alfaro is 70 years old and the last Huarachero in Sayula, Jalisco. Although his woven Huaraches have won him awards in regional craft competitions, today like may Huaracheros his business has become very difficult. Although Señor Alfaro has done very well to stay in a trade where many have quit, he melancholically tells me that Huarache making is a craft headed for extinction and that he has advised all his family not to get into it.
Sadly most towns in Mexico have at most one Huarachero left, whereas 30 years ago each town used to have many. Señor Alfaro told me that at one time 90% of Sayula locals wore Huaraches and 10% wore shoes, today that ratio is inverted and only 10% wear Huaraches.
But besides the reduced consumer base, there are 2 major difficulties facing skilled Huaracheros today, the rising costs of vegetable tanned leather and rubber tyres, and that very few Mexicans are prepared to pay the equivalent of US$30-US$60 for footwear, especially if it isn’t branded.
But if you’re looking for some new high quality Huaraches and want to learn more about how they’re crafted, Señor Alejandro Alfaro Ramirez’s welcomes you to visit his ‘Taller’ workshop only a few blocks from the main Plaza in Sayula, Jalisco.
The workshop is located at:-
Prisciliano Sanchez No.160
Sayula, Jalisco, Mexico
Remember that you won’t find any Huaraches made as finely as Señor Alejandro Alfaro Ramirez’s in any Mexican Market or High Street.
Some of Señor Alfaro’s Huarache designs include the ‘Finito Recargado’. Notice how every weave on the vamp overlaps the next.
Simpler ‘Recargado’ Huaraches with ‘adornos’ detailing. As well as complex weaves many Huaraches used to be embellished with stitching and rivets (some as big as a nickel). Such Huaraches were sometimes referred to as “para domiguear”, which loosely translated means “to Sunday in”.
Some ‘Arañita’ Huaraches
And ‘Zapatilla’ Huaraches