This is a Bata Cubana, or Cuban Rumba dress, donated to the Smithsonian by Celia Cruz, the great
China Poblana Dress
Grade Range: K-12
Resource Type(s): Artifacts, Primary Sources
Date Posted: 9/20/2009
Mariachis, groups comprised of vocalists, trumpeters, violinists, and various bass and guitar players, are today considered Mexico's traditional musical ensemble. Originally from the state of Jalisco, mariachi music transformed itself from a regional to a national music between the 1930s and 1950s. Its accompanying attire is the fancy charro costume for men and the china poblana dress (like the one pictured here) for women. The thriving song, music, and dance culture surrounding mariachi today is the product of pioneering work by Mexican American educators and performers in the early 1960s. Mariachi instruction programs have since grown in popularity across Mexican American communities, with student mariachi ensembles beginning to perform as early as elementary or middle school. But Mexican American musical traditions began much earlier than the mariachi movement—they include styles as diverse as the choir music of the California missions and the corridos and ballads of San Antonio's Rosita Fernández (1925 1997). This china poblana dress, made in the 1960s, belonged to Fernández who, though performing a wide repertoire of Mexican song styles, is most identified with música norteña, rather than mariachi. Her sixty-year career as a local radio, TV, and theater star garnered her the title, "San Antonio's First Lady of Song."