I remember as a young folklorista feeling a bit perplexed at times. I mistakenly thought that all the costumes, music, and dance traditions came from a community of people. It was until I entered graduate school that I began to see the folklórico world in a different light. Here, I dug deep into research on Mexican cultural nationalism of the 1920s and the ways it influenced which dances were selected to represent the country of Mexico. Now, as I read through my texts I keep seeing the name Ramón Valdiosera, a fashion designer, appear alongside the creation of many folklórico costumes which are near to my heart. Some of his folklórico designs such as Veracruz Huasteca and Aguascalientes have become synonymous with the region/state of Mexico even though they were created for the stage. Wanting to learn more, I decided to write two blogs on this topic. This is my second blog post. Here, I write of Valdiosera’s costume designs to represent the states of Aguascalientes, Tabasco, and Quintana Roo.
The people living in Aguascalientes perform many traditional dances such as the matlachines, a version of the Danza de la Pluma, Danza de Conquista, Danza de los Indios and Danza de Chicahuales (both are similar to the Moors and Christians dance). Yet, Maestro José Luis Sustaita Luevano, writes that Aguacalientes did not have an official costume to represent the state until the 1970s when Validosera designed his creation. Valdiosera designed this costume based upon the dress called the Ranchera del Centro. Valdiosera created a white dress with a blouse having a high collar with puffed sleeves. The bodice has lace with a ruffle of the same fabric. The white skirt has a colorful petticoat of pastel or brilliant colors. Valdiosera designed the skirt to have motifs that represent Aguascalientes. The motifs worn today include: carnations, roses, grapes on a vine, balustrade of the garden of San Marcos, roosters, peach blossom, and the guayaba. The reason that folklórico groups often include grapes in their design is due to the fact that at one time the cultivation of grapes had an important economic impact in Aguascalientes. Nowadays, the growing of peach and guayabas are commonplace (Sustaita Luevano 8-9).
Traje de Gala de Tabasco
As Maestra Rosa del Carmen Dehesa remembers one day a few friends of Carlos Madrazo Becerra, Governor of Tabasco, told him that they felt that the regional costume was very humble and simple. They asked Madrazo to designate a dress representing Tabasco that was more stylish. Becerra had the idea to create a gala dress that incorporated the indigenous dress design elements of the women from Tabasco. Thus, he asked fashion designer Validosera to create an official dress of Tabasco. Valdiosera traveled for three months with Roberto Campos to the different communities of Tabasco. When he arrived in Tapijulapa which is a community in Tacotalpa, Tabasco, he loved the beautiful color blue worn there. Valdiosera based his dress design on the people of the community of Tamulté de las Sabanas and decided to utilize the blue of Tacotalpa.
Valdiosera’s design utilizes the traditional embroidered blouse and rebozo worn by the women of Tabasco. However, he designed the A-lined skirt to represent the state. The skirt is a dark blue color and has a thick waistband adorned with the tira bordada of Tabasco. The tira bordada is a strip of colorful embroidered flowers. Along the bottom of the skirt, are four strips of tira bordada with a ribbon sewn underneath each one. The color of the ribbons are the same colors used in the tira bordada. which are blue (representing rivers), green (representing mountains), yellow (representing Chontalpa), and red (representing the central region). Each ribbon on the dress represents a region of Tabasco (Información y fotos proporcionadas, García n.p., Zetina n.p.).
Chetumal Traje de Quintana Roo
In 1959 Carmen Ochoa de Merino who was the wife of Quintana Roo’s Governor Aarón Merino phoned Valdiosera and commissioned him to design a dress to represent the state of Quintana Roo. According to Flor de Azalea Hadad Salgado, Director of the Artistic Laboratory “Chactemal” of the College of Arts and Culture A.C., this was important because Quintana Roo did not have an official dress to represent the state (Hadad Salgado n.p.) Valdiosera traveled to this area and was inspired by a Mayan statue of an indigenous women located in the island of Jaina, Campeche. La Chetumaleña is depicted on this sculpture wearing the traditional dress of Chetumal which was worn in the peninsula. Valdiosera used the pre-hispanic elements of the area in his design. He used a sort of brown linen or yute color for a tunic that reaches below the knees. The tunic is open on the sides without sleeves with a cape worn over the shoulders. Geometric shapes, adorn the shoulders and bottom of the cape as well as, the hem. These motifs can either be painted or embroidered. These motifs were chosen to symbolize fertility (Hadad Salgado, n.p., Verdayes Ortiz n.p., The Chetumaleña Monument). In 1981 this costume became famous when the beauty pageant contestant of Quintana Roo wore a version of this design in the Miss Mexico contest. She won first prize for traditional clothing (The Chetumaleña Monument).
Most importantly, in 1959 the same year that Valdiosera premiered his design, Maestro Rubén Dario composed music and lyrics to a song entitled Danza de la Chetumaleña Prehispánica. Also, Isabel “Bellita” Ferreyro Villamil who taught ballet and folklórico alongside Professor Omar Erosa who was a physical education teacher created the choreography to accompany the music and official dress. This dance was presented in December of 1959 in the Manuel Ávila Camacho Theater (Hadad Salgado n.p.).
Do you notice that all three of the dress designs mentioned above were commissioned by government officials? I have so many questions to ask. For example, why is an official government sanctioned dress needed? Who gets left out when an official dress is chosen and why? What are the politics behind these types of decisions? Also, some of Valdiosera’s folklórico designs are beloved by the people and came to represent the state/regions (Veracruz Huasteca & Aguascalientes) while other designs are not as commonly utilized. What is the reason behind this? Regardless, I can’t help but admire the designs of Valdiosera.
Written by Gabriela Mendoza-Garcia Ph.D.
“The Chetumaleña Monument,” Tu Chetumal. http://tuchetumal.com/en/chetumal-en/interesting-sites/monuments/the-chetumalena-monument/ (accessed February 25, 2021).
García, Manuel Javier. “En homenaje a Valdiosera: Creador del Traje Estilizado Tabasqueño.” Panorama Global de Noticias en Centla. https://www.facebook.com/groups/128426950889172/permalink/389621924769672/
(accessed February 25, 2021).
Hadad Salgado, Flor de Azalea. “El Traje Representative de Quinana Roo Prehispánico Inspirado en una Figurilla Maya del Preclásico.” Quintana Roo, México. https://quintanaroo.webnode.es/news/el-traje-representativo-de-quintana-roo-prehispanico-inspirado-en-una-fugurilla-maya-del-preclasico-por-flor-de-azalia-hadad-salgado-/ (accessed February 25, 2021).
“Información y fotos proporcionadas por la maestra Rosa del Carmen Dehesa,” De Tabasco Soy. https://detabascosoy.com/sitio/detabascosoy.com/traje-tipico/index.html (accessed February 25, 2021).
Sustaita Luevano, José Luis. “Monografia del Estado de Aguascalientes.” 25. Congreso Asociación Nacional de Grupos Folklóricos en Aguascalientes, México del 4 al 11 de Julio de 1998. Aguascalientes: Asociación Nacional de Grupos Folklóricos, 1998.
Verdayes Ortiz, Francisco. “Chetumaleña con Reminiscencia Prehispánica.” Turquesa News. https://turquesanews.mx/radar-peninsular/trajes-tipicos-identidad-casi-desconocida/ (accessed February 25, 2021).
Zetina, Eleyda. “El Origin de la Tira Bordada Tabasqueña.” Hey México. https://heymexico.mx/blogs/cultura/el-origen-de-la-tira-bordada (accessed February 25, 2021).
For additional readings please see the book Dancing Throughout Mexican History (1325-1910) written by Sanjuanita Martínez-Hunter and edited by myself. Now available for purchase on Amazon. See the link below. https://www.amazon.com/author/gabrielamendozagarcia