A few weeks ago, while on holiday in Mexico I visited Senor Porfirio Montero Ortiz in Umán, a small town just south west of Merida, Yucatán.
“Don Pio” as he is affectionately known by everyone locally, has been making Alpargatas for almost 60 years since he was just 12 years old.
This huge mural in the photo below was painted by a local artist called Arnold Daniel Cruz Cetina, also Datoer, or Datoergs on Instagram. And is part of a series of portraits called “Pintado Recuerdos”, or Painted Memories.
Like Huaraches, Alpargatas are traditional Mexican footwear from the Yucatán peninsula. The earliest style is probably the “Aplargatas de Orejas” meaning “Eared” Alpargatas (please use the search bar on the top right to find more posts). They are simply made from a leather sole and Henequen/Sisal chord, and are similar to the “Pata de Gallo” Huaraches from Central and Western Mexico.
Don Pio is a master craftsman and makes some of the best Alpargatas in the Yucatán peninsula, some of which have won prizes in regional crafts competitions. The quality of his work and detail of his designs means that at the most he can make not more than 2 pairs per day.
Probably the most iconic regional style of Alpargatas are the “Chillonas”, a man’s style which are often used for dancing the local Jarana Yucateca dance.
“Chillonas” literally means “Squeakers” and are called this way because of the squeaky sound created by the multi layered leather soles while dancing.
Then there is the interesting “De Cordel” Alpargata which is an embellished version of the “De Oreja” Alpargatas which are commonly worn in the countryside.
And the “Cruzado” Alpargata is also an embellished version of the traditional style sandals.
A true artisan, Don Pio also wears his own designs which is quite unusual for Huaracheros.
The workshop of Don Pio is at Calle 21 N.113, just located behind the Town Hall in Umán, Yucatán.
Tel. 999.448.5859 and 999.645.9839
And on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Talabartería-Umán-181516822012752/
More photos soon on Huarache Blog on Instagram
A few weeks ago I stopped by to visit Don Salvador and his son Fernando Cisneros.
They proudly showed me that they had recently been featured in a Mexican style magazine and told me how a photographer had come all the way from Mexico City to take pictures of them.
They are very nice photos and its a pleasure to share them.
You can reach Don Salvador and Fernando by telephone at Tel. 372.426.0318 – Cel. 342.103.3152, or visit them in very traditional, pretty and authentic small town of Concepción de Buenos Aires in Jalisco.
To see more photos of their Huarache styles visit the Huarache Directory Website HERE, or simply search “Cisneros” in the “The Huarache Searcher” bar on the right side of this page to also see how their exceptional Huaraches are made.
Via Andares Magazine Grandes Maestros by Montserrat Cardona and photos by Erick Guevara
For those not familiar with Christopher McDougall’s book “Born to Run”, the Ultra Caballo Blanco is a unique 50 mile ultra marathon that offers runners from anywhere in the world the incredible opportunity to run with the local Raramuris, “the light-footed ones”.
15 years ago when I first heard about the Raramuri/Tarahumara, meeting them and experiencing their culture was nothing more than a dream, or at best something reserved only for anthropologists and the most adventurous traveller, both of which I was not.
But today from the Chepe train station town of Bahuichivo in Chihuahua, getting to Urique is only a slightly adventurous 55km, but very beautiful 4 hour switchback bus ride to the bottom of the Urique Canyon,
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During a recent visit to the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto I was very privileged visit their archives and photograph these very old Men’s Zapatilla Huaraches from Uruapan, circa 1910.
Men’s Zapatilla Huaraches Courtesy of the Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto.
They immediately reminded me of 15th Century Poulaine European footwear and also of the recent Mexican fashion of Botas Picudas – Pointed Boots.
I wish to thank everyone at the Bata Shoe Museum for a very special visit.
Every 12th of September the Mexican town of Sahuayo in Michoacan, Mexico hosts it annual Huarache competition.
The competition is organized by the local government to celebrate the Mexican tradition and craft of Huarache footwear.
A Huarachero checking out the competition.
Ing. Oscar Casillas the Director of Sustainable Development for the town of Sahuayo and organizer of the 6th Huarache Competition. He did ask me if I was going to enter, but I had forgotten to bring any of my designs..Maybe next year..
This year Antonio Granados who is probably one of the best, if not the best Huarachero in the world, created a “Zapato Huarache” design with his signature diamond pattern design. His design won first prize.
Its worth mentioning that the upper design of woven Huaraches is not prepared flat and then pulled around a last and glued like regular woven footwear.
Woven Huaraches are made by weaving a single strip of leather sequentially into the holes in the sole. The pattern slowly emerges as the weave goes back and forth through the various holes in the sole. If at any point the leather strip is not woven correctly, the whole design ends distorted and must be unwoven up to the point where the mistake was made and can be corrected.
My personal winner Huarache design was this “Petatillo” done with a more open weave, by Efrain Chavez.