Rebozo Cultural Icon

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The rebozo is a symbol that connects us to our ancestors and culture. Even though a physical and cultural border may separate the two, their histories remain tightly woven together. From an object devoid of history to an object filled with history, the rebozo reveals how different strands come together to make a complex web of identity (Cisneros). Originating in Persia and India, the Mexican “rebozo” was introduced to the Spanish during the Moorish conquest of Spain, and then brought to Mexico by the Spanish. While the garment was called chal in Spain, Mexicans invented their own word, REBOZO, from the verb arreborzarse, to cover oneself. Over the years the Mexican shawl length, narrowed, and borrowed influences, including ikat or tie-dying weaving techniques, from shawls brought from China, the Philippines, and India aboard Manila galleons in the 16th and 17th centuries. By the 19th century the “rebozo” had become the symbol of Mexican womanhood and, like the native woman’s huipil or tunic, identified the wearer’s region or village by its color, arrangement of stripes, fabric and fringe type. By the end of the nineteenth century this symbol of Mexican womanhood, depicted in countless costumbrista paintings and lithographs (Sayer). The way a woman draped it around her could even indicate her marital state, perhaps availability (Mexicoartshow.com). The rebozo is "whatever you need it to be at the time": cool-weather wrap, knapsack, sash, elegant shawl, and a baby carrier. Also like so many other traditional cloths, rebozos are an expression of Chicano art, history, and culture. Rebozo brings memories of my ancestors. I asked my mom, a Native Mexican transplanted to California, why she wears rebozos. Her response to me was that it is part of her traditions and culture. The rebozo, in her upbringing was a necessity and an heirloom. Discussion about the rebozo led her to reminisce about how my grandmother, her mother, used to sew the

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