Tehuantepec, Mexico - Encyclopedia




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TEHUANTEPEC (from tecuani-tepec - " jaguar-hill"), the town which gives its name to the isthmus, gulf and railway, stands on the Tehuantepec river about 15 m. from its mouth and 13 m. by rail from Salina Cruz. Pop. (1904, estimated) 10,000. It is a typical, straggling Indian town, occupying the slope of a hill on the Pacific side of the divide, with a beautiful view of the river valley and the distant sierras to the N. The streets are little more than crooked paths up the hillside, and the habitations are for the most part thatched, mud-walled huts. The population of the town and of the surrounding district is composed almost wholly of Indians of the great Zapoteca family. The Tehuanas of Tehuantepec are noted for the beauty and graceful carriage of their women, who are reputed to be the finest-looking among the native races of Mexico. The women are the traders in Tehuantepec and do little menial work - a result, apparently, of the influence of beauty. The local industries include the making of "calla," a cane spirit, and the weaving of cotton fabrics, dyed with the juice of a marine shell-.fish (Purpura patula) found on the neighbouring coast. Indigo was formerly grown in the vicinity and cochineal gathered for export, but both of these industries have declined.

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