The Jarabe Tapatio (Mexican Hat Dance), once considered too provocative and controversial, was prohibited by colonial authorities up until the The Mexican War of Independence. In 1821, following 300 years of Spanish rule and governing Viceroyalties, the territory of Nueva Espana would become the free nation of Mexico and the pride the followed would be expressed in many different ways. The Hat Dance is a story of courtship between a Charro and China Poblana which is sealed with a kiss behind the wide brim of the Charro's sombrero. The sombrero is as much a part of Mexico's proud history and national identity and the Hat Dance itself.
Before the days of chinacos and charros the sombrero was mostly a utilitarian hat worn for practical purposes. The high conical crown allowed air to circulate and the wide brim offered respite from the summer heat to the field worker cast in its shadow. During the Mexican War of Independence the utilitarian hat would begin its transformation into the icon it is today. Mexico's indigenous freedom fighters, 'Chinacos', would hide in caves by day and fight by night. Their bravery would eventually put them on the world stage when they fought alongside liberals during the French intervention and defeated the French expeditionary under Napoleon III. The insurgent Chinaco fighters were horsemen and their attire, the antecedent to Mexico's fashionable Charro and the sport of Charreria, would be characterized by a wool serape and short jacket worn together with flared chaparreras and a castoreño style sombrero. In 1910 revolutionary guerrilla fighters including Pancho Villa, Emiliano Zapata and countless others, fought in the Mexican revolution against the regimes of Porfirio Diaz and Victoriano Huerta and their success would once again put the sombrero on center stage. The revolution would bring cultural and social change and as the nation's pride began to swell so did the size of the sombrero. The crown grew taller, the brim grew wider. The rest is history.
Hand caned ixtle fibers harvested from the spiny leaf of the agave and twisted into threadlike filaments on a wooden peddling wheel. Circa 1920.
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