Placing the combs and the tembleques.
This is part two of how to dress in the pollera focussing on the tembleques and hair combs. This is not part two of last week’s video but it’s the same young woman and helper and it includes more detail. If you’d like to see part two of the other series you can find it here.
Before the hair decorations are placed the hair is styled by parting it from the front to the back of the neck. The hair is then woven into two braids folded into themselves and rotated up and tied with wool or pinned to make two small buns. The hairstyle is the guide for the design and if not done correctly it can mean removing everything and beginning again. The positioning of the braids is also important as they hold many of the hooks and hairpins of the tembleques.
The combs are then placed, usually in a set of two or three with an extra larger comb called a Balcón placed at the back. The Balcón is either flat or curved at the top and is usually engraved and has dangling bead work of coral or pearls.
Peinetas Roba Corazones/ Robber of Hearts Comb – These curly tailed combs originated in the Los Santos region, although recently other areas of the country have adapted them into their traditional dress and many are straight and not curled at the temple area. Traditionally a medicinal resin was placed on the parts touching the temples to help ease the pain of the weight of the combs on the head.
Peinetón – Is placed in the back in the center of the head. The peinetón is round or square, smooth or embossed.
Pajuela/Straw or Pick – In the form of palm leaf or stalk with a long stem, is placed on the right side of the head, between the hair combs and Balcón.
Now the tembleques are added. The placing of the tembleques is uniform and symmetrical. Tembleques are the flowers placed on the head and their name originates from the centers that shake or “tremble” when the wearer moves while dancing or walking. The first ornaments used in the hair were natural flowers,carnations, jasmine, roses and other flowers which were harvested from the gardens surrounding the houses. Later, artisans made flowers with fish scales, wire and pearls, to make the headdress more durable . Today they use pearls, crystals, sequins, combs and other materials. A head of tembleques can have between 12 and 14 sets of flowers, depending on the size of the head and hair thickness.
Tembleques are arranged in matched pairs, one on each side and below the combs, along the part in the hair. The first set is placed over the buns first and secured with hairpins. The design is then built from there using strips of tembleques with pieces filling the gaps.
Tembleques are now made into different forms. The most popular continue to mimic flowers of the countryside such as daisies, roses, pumpkin, melon etc. Artisans now also create insects such as scorpions, butterfly, dragonfly, etc. and some birds like the dove, stork and the peacock. In this video you’ll notice butterflies and pieces in the shapes of peacock feathers, hibiscus, two small peacocks, colored flowers that match the pom-poms and jasmine.
In watching a few videos and researching the pollera and its accessories I gained great admiration for those women who take the time to put on the national dress. Some of those pins look painful and that jewelry a little heavy. I can’t imagine carrying it all around in the 30 degree heat for a few hours or more.
In recent years tembleque artisans have begun attaching their creations to various types of women’s hats and fedoras making these beautiful creations more accessible to the population. I know I love my fedora that mi amiga had made for me and I wear it for those special fiestas…in the campo.