Exhibitions: Living Legacies: The Arts of the Americas


Woman's Blouse, or Huipil. Chinantec artist, circa 1942. Santa Cruz Tepetotutla, Oaxaca, Mexico. Cotton, wool, silk or rayon. Brooklyn Museum, Frank L. Babbott Fund, 42.235.48

Chinantec women in Oaxaca, Mexico, wear traditional blouses, or huipiles, as emblems of their ethnic identity. The specific floral and geometric designs woven and embroidered on this huipil identify it as Chinantec. In addition to their dramatic appearance, huipiles have cosmological significance. When opened and laid flat, the huipil's design creates a cross with the hole for the head in the center, placing the wearer at the heart of the huipil and the universe, surrounded by levels of meaning and symbols.