Page:Travels in Mexico and life among the Mexicans.djvu/281

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THE MEXICANS AT HOME.

It need not be stated, for the information of American readers, that the Indian is of a brown or olive color; he has little or no beard, is rather under medium height, generally stout or corpulent, with muscular thighs, broad chest, and rather slender arms; TLM D281 Mexican Indian.jpgMEXICAN INDIAN.
(From a Wax Figure.)
he is not over strong, but capable of great feats of endurance, and is the entire reliance of the country for work in the mines and agricultural labor. The Indian, says the German traveller Sartorius, invariably retains his national dress, which is as simple as the whole mode of life of these children of nature. The man wears short, wide drawers of coarse cotton or deerskin, which seldom reach to the knee, and a sort of frock of coarse woollen cloth, fastened around the hips by a belt; a straw hat and sandals complete his dress, which is devoid of all ornament. The females wrap themselves in a piece of woollen stuff that passes twice around the body, but is not closed with a seam; this is girded round the waist by a broad colored band, and reaches to the unshod feet. The upper part of the body is covered with the huipile, a wide garment closed on all sides, reaching to the knee, and furnished with two openings for the arms. The hair, tied up with a bright ribbon, is either wound about the head in a thick roll, or hangs down in two plaits; large earrings and bead necklaces complete the attire. The Indians distinguish their tribes by the color and fashion of their simple clothing. Wearing shoes is considered by them a departure from the good old fashion.

His dwelling is in keeping with his simple person. In the warm, well-wooded regions he builds of wood, and of palm leaves and stalks; on the table lands, of unburnt brick (adobe), with a flat roof of stamped clay supported by beams. Inside the hut burns, day and night, the sacred fire of the domestic