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      Can You Wear Mexican Huaraches (Sandals) In Spring?

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      History of Huaraches

      History of Huaraches

      History of Huaraches

      A shoe that has been surviving time. 

      The Huarache or Kwarachi comes from the Purepecha language, meaning a shoe made of fiber of ixtle and skin leather.  In Nahuatl they were called Cactli or Cauhcactil, since cactle means shoes.  The Huarache dates to the pre-Colonial era among early Mexican and Central American civilizations.

      Early examples have been found in farming communities of Jalisco, Michoacán, Guanajuato, and Yucatan, where they continue to be made.

      In Mexico, this shoe has been known since the pre-Columbian era. They can be seen on the deities & warriors represented in murals, tablets, and monumental stones. These decorative items were described by early Spanish missionaries in their writings, and recently have been found in caves by archaeologists.

      Huaraches became more popular in the 60’s due to the Hippie movement.

      Sometimes the term huarache is used to refer to the socially marginalized farming communities (los campesinos). The field workers wore and still wear huaraches in those areas. The huarache is distinguished for its artisanal touch.  This kind of shoe is made by hand and with soul. 

      Generally, the huaraches are made of leather straps braided into various beautiful designs. These designs by skillful saddlers range from simple to detailed and complex. In recent times, huaraches are increasing in popularity due to new modern designs that appeal to the younger generation. 

      It is believed that the first huaraches were made of fiber and leather. Today they still are, but with the addition of synthetic materials.  For instance, there are some huaraches being created with the now characteristic thick rubber sole.   People who know this kind of shoe say, “they’re made to live as along as the owner” (Están hechos para morir iguales). That is a very Mexican phrase that we hear when we see a well made heavy-duty shoe.

      Huaraches can be purchased in Mexican’s markets and, with the increased popularity, in international markets. Even if you find them in other countries, it does not mean they are authentic traditional Mexican huaraches.  The authentic huarache is handmade in Mexico by master artisans with skills that have been passed down through family generations or apprenticeships.

      The indigenous artisan continued to produce huaraches to a degree that they gained recognition as a trade.  By that time, many people already adopted the Spaniard’s style of dress. The history of huarache has passed through different stages and is still evolving today.  Today the term huarache has become internationally known due to the introduction of the Nike Huarache and other brands that also appropriated the name.

      This footwear, despised by some and adored by others, has proven to be a Mexican Icon that has withstood the wear and tear of time.   Such is the case of Lorena Ramirez, a Tarahumara woman who participated in the marathon Ultra Trail Cerro Rojo in Puebla in central Mexico in 2017.

      More than 500 athletes from 12 countries participated in this marathon.  What was special about this woman is that instead of wearing clothing or shoes specifically designed for sports, she wore her traditional skirt, a cap, a bandana, and a pair of huaraches.  In a temperature of more than 40 degrees Celsius, and in these shoes, she earned first prize.  

      Huaraches are as unique as the person who wears them because no pair is identical to another and in a short time, they mold to the wear’s feet. The huarache can be considered ecological or “green” because waste from other industries is used in construction for its sole.

       In the end this simple and humble footwear is really an example of greatness. Even with all the technological superiority that we have today, they achieved centuries ago what we cannot.  A balance between nature and humanity, all through a pair of huaraches.

      Every time I visit my country and especially my beloved city Acambaro, Guanajuato, I visit the market and huaracherias (specialty huaraches store).


      My last trip to Mexico was in 2019.

      I always bring my suitcase full of huaraches, bread, and clothing.





      Yolo Camotes-YouTube video: El Huarache un calzado que no lo desgasta el tiempo.

      My personal experiences

      Written and translated by Maria Del Rosario (Rosie) Richburg

      Edited by Marisa Richburg