Huaraches – For Villagers, Rebels and Soldiers

The history of Huaraches unwritten, I think its important to somehow also present the Huarache in a historical context. Because in order to get a real understanding of Huaraches we must not only look at what is worn and sold today, but also look back through time.

What follows is a short pictorial history of Huaraches made up form photos that I collected off the internet, books and museums and will do my best to give credit to the sources and photographers where I can. I hope this photo collection that I’m showing can fall under the ‘Fair Use’ and I’m not asked to take any images down especially as the images are educational and this blog is not commercial. For the source of all photos collected off the internet and for further information please click on the link below each image, this will not only provides further historical information, but also recognition to the original poster of the image.

Huarache blog would be interested in getting further information and opinions from its readers about the photographs published and would be grateful to receive other historical photos that include Huaraches from readers that Huarache blog will publish.

To view larger versions of each photo as usual just double click on each image.

The Villagers.

I have been told that once there were dozens of Huaracheros working every town and village across Mexico. In those days Huaraches were cheaper to make than shoes and in the hot Mexican outdoors were the footwear of choice.,_Tacubaya,_Guanajuato,_Mexico,_ca._1900.jpg

The photo above was taken at the Museo Regional of Guadalajara.

These photos were taken by Tomas Montero Torres and in exhibit at the Centro Cultural Claviero in Morelia.

These photos are from another famous Mexican photographer Agustín Víctor Casasola who is responsible for many of the photos of the Mexican revolution of 1910.

Photos like this one above and below are by German photographer Hugo Brehme spent most of his life photographing Mexico.

This photo was taken from a board outside the Huichol Museum in Zapopan.

The photos above are taken from a very good book called La Cristiada by Jean Meyer and I will talk more about it in the next part on Rebels. The bibliography of the book credits the photo above to the ‘Coleccion Particular’.

The Rebels.

Mexico has a long history of internal conflicts, uprisings and revolutions. The most affected by the conflicts were the always ordinary people from towns and villages who sometimes took up arms joining the rebel forces usually against an oppressive government.

The most recent uprising and one little talked about was the Cristero War between 1926 and 1929. For further information a very good book that I have borrowed photos from is called La Cristiada by the French-Mexican Historian Jean Meyer. The book reads almost like a photographic essay and excellently depicts the plight of ordinary Mexicans, who took up arms against a government that was closing churches around Mexico and forbidding religious ceremonies. Denying people of their customs and relief from the hardships of a poor and hard life, just because it feared the political strength of new Catholic driven political movements developing in that time. I have read San Manuel Bueno, Martir a short story by Spanish author Miguel de Unamuno and found this book also touching.

A very powerful photo from the book La Cristiada is this one below of a rebel Cristero, Capitan Alcantar.

Image above taken from La Cristiada by Jean Meyer and credited in the bibliography to the Museo Cristero Erfren Quezada De Encarnacion De Diaz in Jalisco.

Image above taken from La Cristiada by Jean Meyer and credited in the bibliography to the Museo Cristero Erfren Quezada De Encarnacion De Diaz in Jalisco.

People throughout Mexico joined in the revolt and in the photo below on the right is a group of rebel Cristeros from Sahuayo in Michoacan, which is today the manufacturing center of Huaraches in Mexico. Sahuayo was one of many towns where terrible events took place during the Cristero War.

Images above taken from La Cristiada by Jean Meyer and credited in the bibliography to the Archivo Historico de la Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (left) and the ‘Coleccion Particular’ (right).

There is the moving story of the recently beatified (similar to Sainthood in the Catholic Church) Jose Luis Sanchez del Rio ‘Martir De Cristo Rey’. Jose Luis was a 14 year old boy and Cristero rebel who was captured after he gave up his horse to the Cristero General Prudencio Mendoza. As he was so young the troops offered him the chance to be spared on the condition that he say “Death to Christ the King” and renounce his faith. But he refused so first he was first made to watch the execution of a Cristero Leader and then on February 10th 1928 the skin from the soles of his feet was cut off and he was made to walk through the Sahuayo. Not renouncing his faith he shouted ever louder the words “Viva Cristo Rey’ until eventually he was stabbed numerous times with bayonets and the commander of the troops shot Jose Luis  to the head.

Below are a group of Huichol rebels from Nayarit.

Image above taken from La Cristiada by Jean Meyer and credited in the bibliography to the Archivo Historico de la Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico.

Notice the Studded Huarache sole in the photo below. The studs are called “Garbancillos” and were used as traction elements. Their layout often included the initials of the owner so that he would leave his mark when walking the trails. The downside to this technology was that they made walking on stone surfaces very slippery.

In English the Garbancillo is known as Hobnail, or Boot Stud. They were commonly used on leather soles for outdoor use up until maybe the 1950’s. Today they are still used on army boots during some marching parades.

Image above taken from La Cristiada by Jean Meyer and credited in the bibliography to the ‘Coleccion Particular’.

Image above taken from La Cristiada by Jean Meyer and credited in the bibliography to the Archivo Historico de la Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico.

But the most powerful picture in the book and on this post is the one below. I hold Mexico close to my heart and its hard to put into words what I feel when I see it. I was hesitant to publish it but it feels like the ultimate expression of the dramatic history of Mexico, the strong traditions, the unbreakable will of its people and their will to resist. In the same photo are also two pairs of Huaraches.

Image above taken from La Cristiada by Jean Meyer and credited in the bibliography to the Archivo Historico de la Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico.

Before the Cristiada was the Mexican revolution 0f 1910. Fighting against the government forces were the Zapatistas who were mainly indigenous peasants fighting to establish communal land rights for Mexico’s indigenous population, which had mostly lost its land to the wealthy elite of European descent.
This photo was taken by Augustin Victor Casasola.

This photo was taken at the Mueso Cuauhnauac at the Palacio de Cortez in Cuernavaca.

There were also the Huertistas who were mainly supporters of the deposed Mexican President Porfiro Diaz and in 1913 fought to allow Victoriano Huerta to take over from Francisco I. Madero who in on October 5, 1910 had originally started the revolution and overthrown Diaz.

The Soldiers.

Soldiers in the Mexican revolution as in most wars in history had little access to new equipment. So if they were new recruits they might not get all the equipment such as a complete uniform or boots. Whats more if their boots broke or were stolen they could not get a new pair and so instead some soldiers wore Huaraches.

The Rurales.

Going still further back in time, probably the oldest photo I have of Huaraches is the one below. The Rurales or the Mexican Guardia Rural were a police force created  President Benito Jaurez in 1861 and operated also under Presidents Diaz, Madero and Huerta until 1913. Rather like that of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police or the Texas Rangers they were formed to control the widespread banditry in Mexico during the 1860s and 70s. The Rurales were formed by a mix of seconded officers from the Federal Army, forcibly recruited captured bandits and enlisted civilians; a mix of soldiers, rebels and villagers.

8 Comments on “Huaraches – For Villagers, Rebels and Soldiers”

  1. carlos mariel mumenthey pereyra says:

    Hi guys, this site is amazingly rich in information, im from mexico at the south border, of course i love huaraches, by the way i used to wear allmost all days, in i will like to help with some pics or info

    • huaracheblog says:

      Thank you very much Carlos! Whatever information about Huaraches you can help provide will be gratefully accepted at Huarache Blog. Huarache Blog collects and publishes information on Huaraches to help preserve and promote this unique craft, so all information or photos that you can provide will be very well accepted.

      • Jesus Olachea says:

        Carlos…espero no haberme equivocado de persona, soy Jesus, y si no me equivoco y si eres de Chiapas, entonces eres Carlos quien me dió oportunidad de estar en el laboratorio de Mac en la UAG, espero poder contactarte amigo, saludos y espero no haberme equivocado…

      • huaracheblog says:

        Jesus, desafortunadamente no soy Carlos, mira mi photo en ‘About’.

  2. Loly Castro says:

    Your photos are spectacular, I am trying to find a photo of my grandfather Pablo Machichi, he was a general with the mexican army in Sonora and turned Cristero and was killed by the Federales in Huachinera Sonora, I hope that someday you find a photo of him, I will continue to look. Thank you

    • huaracheblog says:

      Thank you for your kind words. I hope you find photo’s of your grandfather. He must have been a remarkable person to give up a military career as a high ranking officer to fight for his beliefs.

      • joanna says:

        I found my grandfather in these pictures thank you so much for posting this.

      • huaracheblog says:

        You’re welcome Joanna, how exciting!

        Its neat when information converges. A few months ago I was in the office of a factory owner and he had one of the photos from this article blown up on his wall. He went onto tell me that his grandfather was the tall Cristero standing in middle of the photo of a group of Cristeros from Sahuayo.

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