You have probably seen Mexican clothing, but have you ever wondered about how they made it and why they were made like that? On May 13th, Voice K had a chance to go to ROM’s 4th floor to see the Viva Mexico exhibition. We discovered so much about Mexican culture in this one visit!
Around a century ago in Mexico, a lot of things were hand made and they used a variety of materials such as silk. Now it is really rare to find silk on Mexican clothing. On several garments at the exhibition, there is a common Mexican symbol: an eagle on a cactus holding a snake in its beak. This symbol has a few meanings such as the eagle representing a sun god and triumph to the Europeans.
Weather is an important aspect to consider while making clothing. In Mexico, temperatures vary everywhere so not all their clothing is the same. In the Mexican mountains, it is colder so they wear warmer and more clothing. Since they don’t have wool in Mexico, they get it from other countries so that they can keep warm. Some of them wore hats, which are pretty same as the ones you can find today, to protect them from the sun.
Mexican clothing was also influenced by Europeans. For example, the Mexicans added waistbands to their skirts when the Europeans arrived.
We were led by a friendly tour guide named Evelyn McIntyre, who explained that the purpose of the exhibition. “is to portray the importance of clothing in the Mexican culture.” McIntyre has been volunteering as a tour guide for around 12 years—that’s longer than we’ve been alive!
During our tour, McIntyre also showed us how they used dyes in Mexico. To change the color of the clothing, they use coloured dyes. One of the ways they got colour was by harvesting snails. The snails would give the Mexicans a colourless liquid, which they would dry out to make it turn purple. Another way they got colour was by collecting bugs on cacti and squeezing them. They could change the colour by adding simple things such as baking powder.
We were impressed with the exhibition. All the information was presented nicely and the layout of the exhibit itself was great too.