Page:The Story of Mexico.djvu/439

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407
PHYSICAL ADVANTAGES.

Certain towns are famous for their serapes—those of San Miguel are especially good, and some of them are very pretty. Travellers buy them and carry them off to serve as portières or afghans at home. The Indian taste for colors, though gaudy, is naturally controlled by a good perception of harmonious effects. Unluckily in late years, the aniline dyes of recent discovery have brought into the country a facility for making intense purples, magentas, and violent blues, which have dazzled their untrained eyes. For this reason, many modern serapes are too violent in coloring; and æsthetic collectors must seek for old fabrics, among which some examples are lovely in tone. The rebozo is a long broad scarf, generally blue, worn by every woman over her head, instead of hat or bonnet. It protects her shoulders also, and conceals whatever deficiency of style or cleanliness may exist underneath. It is made of cotton, but has some warmth in its soft folds. The dexterity is wonderful with which even little girls wind these wraps around their heads, in such a way as to keep firm, while the ends fall in not ungraceful lines over one arm laden with a basket, a bundle, or a baby, while the other arm and hand are free. A large quantity of cotton is grown in Mexico, and upwards of fifty thousand families, Mr. Janvier says, are supported in its manufacture. The cotton mills are provided with English machinery of approved type, and the business is carried on by a few operators upon a large scale. The Indians show ready intelligence in understanding their work in the mills, and remarkable aptitude in acquiring methods of handling what-