Legends: China Poblana

Legend has it that during the Colony in Mexico, the viceroy of New Spain, Marqués de Gálvez, had a slave brought from the Philippines for his personal service.

This girl’s name was Myrrh, the daughter of a Mughal king, who had had to leave her city and seek refuge, but shortly afterwards she was kidnapped in India by Portuguese pirates, slave traders and taken to Cochin, south east country. She was able to escape her abductors and took refuge in a Jesuit Mission, where she was baptized with the name of Catarina de San Juan.

Unfortunately for Mirra, years later the pirates found her and kidnapped her again, taking her with them to Manila, where they sold her to the merchant who took her to New Spain.

However, upon landing in the port of Acapulco, the merchant is said to have found a better bidder, who offered him ten times the
price offered by the Viceroy. It was the poblano Miguel de
Sosa, who took her to Puebla for his service.

Miguel de Sosa’s marriage had no children and they adopted Catarina as such, but she did not lose her status as a slave.

Back then it was used to say to female servitude «China», so that’s what people called it. Myrrh, learned to speak the language
Spanish, he learned to make, to cook, but never to read or write. She dressed in the style she used in her homeland and this was part of the origin of the legend, the «La China Poblana» dress.

A few years after her arrival, Miguel de Sosa died and left indications in her will to release Catarina, but she did not inherit, so she was welcomed by the cleric Pedro Suárez.

The woman known as «China Poblana» passed away on January 5, 1688, at the age of 82. His wake was well attended and his remains rest in the sacristy of the Society of Jesus, where they are still preserved.

Of course, the importance of the legend lies in the fact that the figure of this woman has been one of the most popular, having been painted, stamped and photographed since the Colonial Era. The suit wears a cloth skirt or zagalejo, generally red, sequined with a great variety of geometric drawings and on the front, the national eagle. The blouse is embroidered at the neckline with a bead and carries a «ball» shawl.

It does not matter that the figure of China comes from a long time ago, if during her stay in Puebla the costumes of the princess powerfully caught the attention of the women of the town, they copied them.
In their own way, therefore, hundreds of years after his death, the inns or restaurants can be attended by girls who wear this costume, which has become a symbol of our country, as much as the famous charro costume is.

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Revista Encuadre 2020 (portal) | Journal Encuadre 2020 (magazine)

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