Curator’s Choice: Feather Embellishments in Mexican Huipiles

The huipil—a garment worn by women in Mexico from the time before the arrival of the Europeans until the present day—is a landmark in Mesoamerican attire. Generally formed of handwoven cloth panels that are folded and stitched into a rectangular…

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The huipil—a garment worn by women in Mexico from the time before the arrival of the Europeans until the present day—is a landmark in Mesoamerican attire. Generally formed of handwoven cloth panels that are folded and stitched into a rectangular garment, they feature a rich array of materials, colors, techniques, and designs, and constitute one of the essential and dynamic forms of cultural identity.

Join the Fowler and Elena Phipps, scholar of textile traditions of the Americas, in welcoming Hector Meneses Lozano, director of the Museo Textil de Oaxaca. The program will briefly trace the history of the huipil and highlight some of its special features. Meneses Lozano will share some examples from the extensive collection of the Museo Textil de Oaxaca, alongside a few special pieces from the Fowler Museum. The discussion will then focus on a unique group of huipiles woven with spun downy bird feathers. We invite you to glimpse the subtle beauty of these sophisticated creations from the 16th to the 21st century.

Hector M. Meneses Lozano has served as director of the Museo Textil de Oaxaca, Oaxaca, Mexico, since 2012. Previously, he was, for four years, the museum’s head of Conservation and Collections Management. He trained at the Escuela Nacional de Conservación, Restauración y Museografía “Manuel del Castillo Negrete” in Mexico City. Meneses Lozano has been a Board Member of the North American Textile Conservation Conference since 2008 and co-organizer of the Encuentro de Textiles Mesoamericanos, hosted in Oaxaca, since 2014.

Elena Phipps holds a PhD in pre-Columbian Art History and Archaeology from Columbia University (1989) and teaches textile history, techniques, and cultures in the UCLA Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance. During her time as senior textile conservator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1977-2010), she co-curated two major exhibitions: the award-winning Colonial Andes: Tapestries and Silverwork 1430-1830 (2004) and The Interwoven Globe: Worldwide Textile Trade (2013). Among her publications are Cochineal Red: The Art History of a Color (MMA, 2010), The Peruvian Four-Selvaged Cloth (Fowler Museum, 2013), and “Investigation of a Colonial Latin American Textile” (TSA Proceedings, 2007), which details her research on a special Mexican textile composed of spun feathers and rabbit hair.

Curator’s Choice
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Image credit: María Santiago González Pérez (Zinacantan, Chiapas, México), Huipil, 2016. Photo courtesy of Museo Textil de Oaxaca.

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