5 / 2002

Mexico - Closed-heel sandal with jaguarskin upper and gold disc decoration

The Maya culture once stretched out over El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Belize and South Mexico. This society was ruled by a highly organised and specialised priesthood, dominating political power and maintaining absolute rulers. The Olmecs before and the Toltecs after 1000 AD influenced Mayan cultural developments during many centuries. Part thereof was the worship of the jaguar. Ceremonial dresses of priests and rulers thus frequently included accessories made of jaguarskin to indicate the status of the wearer. The sandal above represents a good example of the customs in that era. The sole is made of layers of rawhide. The upper is stitched with sinew and attached to the sole by tendons or small strips of rawhide. It is especially remarkable that contemporary high-backed sandals from Mexico's Chiapas Highlands are virtually identical to the sandal shown on the left.

Research and text by : W.A.H.M. Habraken-Oosterhout-Holland
Illustration by : Colin Ball - Waalwijk - Holland