Buying Caites in Chiapas

Forgive me if you find this is a bit of a mash-up post with re-cycled images of Huaraches. However the information I picked up on a recent trip to Chiapas was too good not to share.

Having already posted about “Caites, the Evolution of Pre-Hispanic Footwear?“, I recently found out how and where 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.

Caites

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”.

Gobernadores de Chamula

Photo Via ‘Popular Arts of Mexico’, by Kojin Tonyama

And on another side just below the “Chamula” statue sit a group of Huaracheros like the ones below selling and if you’re luck also weaving Huaraches.

P1010318

374_02_2

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 to request that heel curl upwards (see photos above).

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2 Comments on “Buying Caites in Chiapas”

  1. Where can I get real huaraches in Austin Texas? Surely somebody must bring them here. I had a pair that I bought in the street in San Cristobal de las Casas many years ago that I wore and. loved until they were stolen.

  2. hoz49 says:

    We were touring Chamula with Alex and Raul Tours from San Cristobal de las Casas. I was already intimidated by the rules of not taking pictures of the people, church or rituals. But as the tour ended and they let us walk through the Sunday Market I asked our guide if I might be able to find a pair of hurraches here. “To eat or wear?” He asked. He laughed and motioned towards the plaza full of blue plastic tarps and said, “sure, just go in there, they sell them.”
    And so I waded in. I’d already been shut down by the huaracheros I saw in San Cristobal, what if these were the same guys? We were leaving the area tomorrow, this was my last chance.
    Stall after stall had cheap plastic shoes, tennis shoes, flip flops and imitation leather shoes in the “modern” style. I was losing hope.
    At the end of the row I spied a guy in cowboy hat and boots, but he had one pair of hurraches on the ground along with the usual offerings.
    I pointed to the hurraches and asked, “my size?” and held up my foot. He started rummaging through a large black garbage bag and pulled out a light beige pair of rough peasant sandals , made for work, and they fit!
    The price was unbelievably affordable.
    Score!


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