FIGURE 6. Malinche wears an orange huipil over a pale pink skirt and red European shoes.
FIGURE 42. European warriors wearing cloth and metal costumes, in Cell 45 of the Lienzo de Tlaxcala.
FIGURE 9. Titian’s portrait of Charles V and his dog, 1533. Museo del Prado, Madrid.
FIGURE 43. Styles of shields, in Cell 28 of the Lienzo de Tlaxcala. In the front row are European warriors armed with metal-tipped spears and holding a round or oval metal shield (left) and a lobed adarga decorated with tassels (right). In the row of warriors behind them, from left to right, Tlaxcalan warriors hold a Gold Disk shield, a Huaxtec Nose Ornament shield, and a Silver Stones shield.
We saw above how Tlaxcalan converts to Christianity received short haircuts to indicate their conversion. A number of sixteenth-century documents make it clear that indigenous nobles in colonial Mesoamerica were eager to acquire European articles of dress.33 In many ways, this desire for foreign things was an extension of prehispanic tastes. The Matrícula de Tributos shows how Aztecs demanded costume elements as tribute for far-distant places. Long green quetzal feathers are one example. Quetzal birds only live in the cloud forests of Guatemala, thousands of kilometers to the southeast of Tenochtitlan. By wearing these feathers, prehispanic nobles demonstrated their worldliness, their connectedness to distant places. A similar appeal lay behind a desire for European articles of clothing.
In the Lienzo, Tlaxcalan warriors are sometimes shown wielding metal swords and shields from Europe. Yet while Malinche is always shown wearing European shoes (Figure 6), the Lienzo shows no examples of Tlaxcalans wearing items of European attire. This was probably a conscious decision on the part of the artists and patrons who created the Lienzo. In contrast, about 30 years after the Lienzo was created, another document on Tlaxcalan history stresses that conversion to Christianity meant Tlaxcalan nobles both changed their hairstyles and began to wear European clothes.34
However, the Lienzo does depict sixteenth-century European clothing, as worn by Cortés and his soldiers. The basic male outfit consisted of a white long-sleeved shirt with a collar, over which was worn a type of jacket called a doublet and sometimes a cloth ruff around the neck (Figure 42).35 The doublet usually had a short attached skirt; under this men wore a pleated pair of shorts (often matching the doublet) and covered their legs with hose. The shorts, as we saw above, were often ornamented with a codpiece (Figure 9). European men were often bearded, and wore brimmed felt hats in a wide range of colors.
In the Lienzo de Tlaxcala, European warriors are armed with either a metal sword or a metal spear. Europeans are shown using three styles of shield: round, oval, and a lobed style called an adarga (Figure 42, 43). Some of the European soldiers in the Lienzo are shown wearing metal armor. Often this is just a helmet, but sometimes an entire suit of steel is depicted (Figure 43). By the sixteenth century, this kind of full-body military dress was mostly used for parades and ceremonies, not for actual combat (apart from being heavy, it did a poor job of repelling bullets).36 In any case, the humidity and burning sun of Mesoamerica made this kind of metal gear impractical. The final conquest of Tenochtitlan took place in the summer heat of August 1521. European warriors therefore adopted the quilted cotton armor that had been developed in the New World. In other words, in the sixteenth-century New World, some Native Americans were adopting European styles of dress. At the same time, some Europeans were adopting Native American styles of dress.
Text by Byron Hamann
33 For example, many pictorial documents from the sixteenth century reveal that indigenous nobles quickly began wearing European costumes, or began mixing European costume elements with those of prehispanic dress. For example, see the images of the Codex of Yanhuitlan in Jiménez Moreno y Mateos Higuera 1940, and Cosentino 2002, 234.
34 MuÃ±oz Camargo 2000, 270; Díaz Serrano 2010, 99.
35 Persels 2007, 81-84.
36 Soler del Campo 2009.