Arte Plumeria Mosaic / Feather-work Mosaic.
Michoacan, Mexico. Circa 1850
The couture of 'El Chinaco y su China' are illustrated in this mid 19th century 'arte plumeria' (feather mosaic) from Michoacan. The defining characteristics of the Chinaco ensemble, the antecedent to Mexico's fashionable Charro and the sport of Charreria, include a wool serape and short jacket worn together with a castoreño style sombrero and flared chaparreras. Counterpart to the 'traje de Chinaco', the China Poblana wore sequined skirts, silk rebozos, braided hair and fancy sombreros often bearing nationalistic symbols in anodized silver thread.
Feather-work (arte plumeria) has a long and rich history in the Americas but perhaps nowhere more so than Mexico. Pre-Hispanic civilizations collected molted feathers from wild egret, blue grosbeaks, roseate spoonbills, humming birds and the prized Quetzal to be used on arrow shafts, ceremonial shields, garments and headdresses. In the early colonial period the techniques that had been utilized ritually in pre-Hispanic times were succeeded by more elaborate designs represented in Christian iconography. The popularity of arte plumeria reached its zenith in the 17th century and was soon followed by a steady decline in demand and a commensurate reduction in quality and practicing craftsman. Only a handful of adept mosaicists, including the skilled artisan who championed this masterful example, would carry the tradition into modernity. From the soft and supple texture of her zebra striped rebozo to the textured suede of his jacket, the cultural phenomenon of 'El Chinaco y Su China' are faithfully represented in this kaleidoscopic masterpiece of living color.
Condition notes: in pristine condition.
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