I study the technology of prehistory. Because of this, I believe strongly in the benefits of experiential archaeology. It gives perspective on a very deep level. We can walk in the shoes of our ancestors, so to speak. I say experiential here not experimental and I'm glad to hear this word coming into the dialog …
Tying your own shoes - Before looking at the ethnographic literature I experimented with tying up some simple sandals with mixed success. It turns out that it's not as simple as one might think. Now I'm a connoisseur and am always making mental notes when I see old depictions, or in the old world, images …
I study the technology of prehistory. Because of this, I believe strongly in the benefits of experiential archaeology. It gives perspective on a very deep level. We can walk in the shoes of our ancestors, so to speak.
One of the many things taught at Winter Count this year was shoe making in the form of carbatina or ghillies. These are relatively simple shoes notable for their one piece construction and generally involve very little sewing. I am interested in how things are learned and for me, the process is more important than …
Thanks Dave, for pointing this out to me. Great stuff!
Some shoe solutions from the Bronze Age, North Africa. Sandal maker - New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty from Thebes ca. 1504–1425 B.C. Like a Diderot illustration this gives a good look at the workshop of an artisan with the essentials of his trade. There's the stool, which is useful in leatherwork as it gives a good lap …
This is a great series of photos of a surviving craft still producing their own leather. This maintains an economy (for them) that could have very little cash outflow, replacing the cost of raw materials with labor. I hope these industries survive.
Nestled into the Sierra Norte mountains of Oaxaca is the small town of Yalalag.
Yalalag is very precious town, not only for it’s strong Pre-Hispanic traditions, but also because like only a handful of other small towns in Mexico, most of the Yalalag population is still dedicated to the traditional craft of Huarache making.
Huaracheria Aquino is the largest ‘Taller’ workshop in Yalalag and they are well known for their high quality Zapotec Huaraches.
What also sets this family run business apart from most other Huarache makers in Mexico is that their crafting process begins at their in-house tannery, where they vegetable tan all their leathers to their precise specifications.
Huaracheria Aquino is famous for their traditional women’s Zapotec Yalalag sandals (the only existing traditional women’s leather sandal/huarache style in Mexico).
Photo of young Zapotec Woman in Mitla, by Guy Stresser-Péan, 1957
Their ‘Tejido’ Huarache also stands out for the…
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If you are interested in Huaraches, this blog is the end-all of huarache information.
Señor Alfaro is 70 years old and the last Huarachero in Sayula, Jalisco. Although his woven Huaraches have won him awards in regional craft competitions, today like may Huaracheros his business has become very difficult. Although Señor Alfaro has done very well to stay in a trade where many have quit, he melancholically tells me that Huarache making is a craft headed for extinction and that he has advised all his family not to get into it.
Sadly most towns in Mexico have at most one Huarachero left, whereas 30 years ago each town used to have many. Señor Alfaro told me that at one time 90% of Sayula locals wore Huaraches and 10% wore shoes, today that ratio is inverted and only 10% wear Huaraches.
But besides the reduced consumer base, there are 2 major difficulties facing skilled Huaracheros today, the rising costs of vegetable tanned leather and rubber tyres, and that…
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National Geographic reports a remarkable find of Roman shoes in Camelon, Scotland. I hope to see the report. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/10/111010-roman-empire-shoes-fort-britain-archaeology-science/