Hacienda, henequén and hipil: three Spanish words that begin with the letter H. For starters, the letter H is silent in Spanish and when speaking Spanish, unless there is an accent mark, emphasis is placed on the second to last syllable. The accent mark in “henequén” dictates that emphasis will be on the last syllable.
Mexican Haciendas were efficient farming, ranching and manufacturing centers that produced meat, produce, and products for export. In the 19th century most Yucatecan haciendas produced henequén which was used worldwide to produce cord, twine and rope for the shipping industry. Yucatán was the world’s largest producer of henequén fibers between 1901 and 1916.
Late in the 19th century and the early 20th Century, the area surrounding Mérida prospered from the production of henequén. For a brief period, around the turn of the 20th century, Mérida was said to house more millionaires than any other city in the world.Wilipedia
In the Yucatán during the 16th century, Spaniards enforced a caste system enslaving the indigenous Maya on haciendas in a system similar to the feudal system of Europe and slavery on southern US cotton plantations.
After the 1847 Caste War, and with the later invention of synthetic fibers, most haciendas were abandoned and left to decay in the jungle.
In the 1990s many haciendas were restored and renovated to their former state of glory as private homes, or transformed into beautiful 5-star spa hotels, or opened as museums as a way of providing a glimpse into the colonial era.
Hacienda San Lorenzo originally began as a cattle ranch in 1653. Many times in the hacienda’s history it was owned by women. In 1863 Hacienda San Lorenzo planted agave and began processing henequén in 1873. The steam boiler exploded in 1906 after which the hacienda was sold multiple times – in 1907 to a woman, in 1908 to a woman, and in 1910 to the current owner’s family. A new machine house was constructed in 1912. In 2002 Hurricane Isidore caused extensive damage to the machine house.
Mayan people began to settle at Aké over 2300 years ago, their population peaked between 600-1200 AD then declined and abandoned the area around 1450.
Our guide pointed out many trees and plants growing on the hacienda that provide food including a pepper tree and a bush that produces gourds which he said the Maya used for drinking gourds and scooping water for bathing.
Fun Fact: Why did henequén become known around the world as “sisal” instead of henequén? Because the boxes in which it was exported were marked with the seal of the Port of Sisal.
In Valladolid we stayed at a hotel called Casa Hipil. What is a hipil? I had seen and admired the hipil (also called huipil) without knowing what it was called.
Maybe the following photos will be worth a thousand words.
The typical formal dress of Mestizas is the “terno.” It consits of three pieces: the “jubón”, which is a square lapel that is attached to the neckline of the “hipil” which is a knee-length shift-type dress. The third piece is the “fustán”, a half slip worn underneath the hipil. Each garment has embroidery, cross stitched or machine-made, at the bottom edge. A luxurious dressy terno’s hipil is fringed with wide white lace as well as the fustán.Yucatan Today
And now you know a little history of the Hacienda, Henequén, and Hipil.
Meet you next time from Valladolid, another Pueblo Mágico.
This is a travel blog and I would be remiss to not mention my sorrow and concern over the heartbreaking news coming from Ukraine. Although I have not traveled to either Ukraine or Russia, I would’ve liked to. I know people from both countries. I hope and pray for peace!
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