Materials: Wood, Fabric, and Hair
This doll is a figure of a dancing woman wearing a stylized Hispanic dress. Dresses like these were typically worn in a traditional Mexican folk dance. Baile Folklórico is Spanish for “folk dance” and is the term for the various traditional dances of the Latin American people, from South America to Mexico and Central America. These dances are expressions of the lives and culture of the Latin American people, they use indigenous and inherited folk dances to make a religious, social, or political statement. The dresses used are typically brightly colored and have a long skirt with many layers so they flare out when the dancer spins.
With the end of the Mexican Revolution in the early 20th century came a new era in Mexico, the war had ended but the culture and government was radically changing. The cultural renaissance happening in Mexico at this time provoked a dialogue on the social inequalities and the ambiguity of the Mexican identity. Famous modern artists, such as Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, expressed these inequalities through public art. Baile Folklórico dances became popular at this time as well, while dramatic changes were happening in society the dances revived the awareness of the native heritage.
The Ballet Folklórico de Mexico, created by Amalia Hernández in the late 1950s, was the first professional folklórico performing company. It is internationally recognized and serves as ambassador of Mexican folklore and arts across the world. The Ballet Folklórico has helped significantly in not only the preservation, but the growth of the Mexican Baile Folklórico traditions. Many of the Mexican States have their own distinct techniques and costumes, attributed to geographic differences or influences of indigenous or European groups. A variety of Ballet Folklórico dances are featured every year here at the Institute of Texan Cultures during the Texas FolkLife Festival.
The cultural renaissance in Mexico resonated throughout the 20th Century, no doubt inspiring in the Mexican American population in the U.S. During the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s. Along with African Americans, all people of color including Chicanos began to assert their cultural and historical heritage through art during this time. The intended audiences of these works were la gente del barrio, or the people from the local communities or neighborhoods. These various art mediums confront and affirm traditions, beliefs, and practices of the culture. They are intended to not only express heritage, but to educate and empower people by celebrating their cultural identity and confronting social issues. Today, muralism is still popular in asserting the identity of a culture. San Antonio is known for its downtown murals where artists, such as Adriana Garcia, and other local artists unite and inspire the community through public art. The San Anto Cultural Arts, established in 1933, has a public art program that encourages members of the community to participate in the creation of murals, inspiring pride in the community. [Sara Countryman, edited by Kathryn S. McCloud]
Stuyvesant Piano Company
Materials: Wood, Metal, Plastic
This object is a Stuyvesant player piano, manufactured in 1922 in New York. It was gifted to the museum by a local couple, along with over 700 rolls of music that still work in the piano.
A player piano is a piano that plays itself. A roll of music was created with punch holes in a specific pattern. When the roll fed through a reader on the piano, a mechanism would interpret the punch holes as musical notes, and the piano would play itself- like a music box. Player pianos were hugely popular from about 1900-1930.
In the late 1800s, music was the most popular form of entertainment. People would attend orchestra concerts or traveling Vaudeville– or variety- shows, and many people had pianos in their homes. Although there were many talented musicians at the time, there was always a demand for live music at home parties, even if there wasn’t a talented piano player on hand.
In 1896, the first self-playing piano was introduced by Edwin Scott Votey, who invented the pianola– another word for a player piano- in his home workshop in Detroit, Michigan. Early models of the pianola were cabinet-like boxes that were sold as add-ons to traditional pianos. It wasn’t until 1902 that the self-playing mechanism was installed into the actual pianos, and by 1916, 60% of all pianos sold were player pianos. Some music rolls even included the words to the songs in the margins, encouraging sing-alongs at parties.
Initially, pianolas were marketed to rich buyers, with models costing around $250 (today that would be about $6000). Soon, cheaper models were launched, with a standard 65-note format. This excluded the 6-note range at each end of the piano keyboard, but was able to hit most standard notes. The Buffalo Convention of 1908 standardized roll formats, and broadened the key range to include all 88 notes on the piano keyboard.
Around this same time in Germany, an inventor named Edwin Welte developed a much more advanced version of the player piano, known as a reproducing piano. The reproducing piano allowed for a much more sophisticated sound, allowing for automatic adjustments in expression and volume of notes, reproducing the original performance of an artist. These models were very much the first sound recorders for music.
With this new advanced sound, many famous composers of the day- from Scott Joplin, Jelly Roll Morton and George Gershwin, to Claude Debussy and Sergei Rachmaninoff– were able to record their music specifically for the reproducing pianos. People were able to enjoy anything from classical music to ragtime in their own homes.
With the Wall Street crash of 1929, interest in player pianos effectively came to an end. Radios became a household convenience, and people found other forms of entertainment. However, in the 1960s, there was a renewed interest in player pianos, and Aeolian– one of the largest manufacturers of player pianos- even produced a modern version. Many households, including the donors of this piano, enjoyed the player piano at parties all the way through the 20th century. [Carrie Klein, edited by Kathryn S. McCloud]
This object is a contact printer made by Ansco Company in Binghamton, New York. Before photography became primarily digital, it was designed to create a photographic image from a film negative. Several images from a strip of film would be lined up on a sheet, creating rows of small picture prints, called contact prints. This contact printer was owned by James W. Zintgraff, Sr. Zintgraff, along with his son, James, Jr., owned and ran a well-known photography business in San Antonio from the 1920s through the 1980s.
James Zintgraff Sr. was a cameraman in Hollywood in the early 1920s. After deciding he didn’t like the pace of the west coast, he moved back to San Antonio with the idea of starting a local film industry. In 1927, he worked as a cameraman on a movie called “Wings,” which was filmed in several areas in and around San Antonio, and went on to become the very first movie to ever win best picture at the Academy Awards.
Around that same time, Zintgraff started a still photography business in his backyard. In the early days, the owner of the Coca-Cola plant in San Antonio would enlist Zintgraff to take pictures of the plant and warehouse. Zintgraff would run home, develop the pictures, and deliver them within four hours. He believed the owner was doing him a favor to help him get started.
Though there wasn’t much competition in the early days, James felt that Zintgraff Studios could attribute his success to “having a lot of good friends” from his time in Hollywood. When a movie premiere or famous people came to town, James would get the jobs through his Hollywood connections. Most notably, Zintgraff photographed Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman when they came to San Antonio for presidential duties. When James, Jr. joined his father’s business, he worked closely with Hollywood elites such as Cecil B. DeMille and even worked with John Wayne when he was filming The Alamo in Brackettville, a town about 130 miles west of San Antonio.
Through the years, Zintgraff Studios worked closely with some of the most well-known brands in the city, including Pearl, Lone Star, Rainbo Breads, and Coca- Cola. In addition, they were official photographers for the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, numerous Fiesta events, and captured thousands of photographs of area movie theaters, street scenes, parks, schools, and even the new Convention Center when it opened it the 1960s.
The photographs taken by the Zintgraff Studios span seven decades of history. They tell the story of San Antonio and its people. Today, more than 850,000 of the Zintgraff photographs are stored in the UTSA Special Collections Library, located inside the Institute of Texan Cultures. The moments they captured are locked in time, preserving a bit of the past for future generations. [Carrie Klein, edited by Kathryn S. McCloud]
Unknown date, likely 20th century
Materials: Paper Mache and Paint
This mask represents a character named Sun Wukong (孫悟空), or the Monkey King, who appears in Chinese folklore and plays a large role in the 16th century classic Chinese novel Xiyou ji, or Journey to the West. In the mythology of Sun Wukong, he was born from a stone egg on top of the Mountain of Flower and Fruit, when the wind blew on the stone egg it turned into the monkey. The Monkey King gained immortality and supernatural powers but rebelled against heaven when the gods excluded him from a royal banquet. He stole Xi Wangmu’s peaches of immortality and Laozi’s pills of longevity, then destroyed many of heavens palaces. The Buddha captured the Monkey King and imprisoned him in a mountain for five hundred years. The Buddha released him in exchange for his aid protecting the famous monk Xuanzang in his pilgrimage to India to retrieve the Buddhist sutras.
The story of the Monkey king is an important myth in Chinese culture, and it continues to be a popular story in Chinese theater and cinema. Many Chinese operas use face paint rather than masks such as this one. In the Chinese Opera, colors have significant meanings and are used as a visual aid. Red is used to represent a positive character or to show courage, intelligence, or bravery, black is used as a neutral color, blue is used to show stubbornness and white is used as a negative color or to represent a sly or evil character. Gold and silver show characters such as gods, demons and spirits. While red is the predominant color in this specific mask, there are other depictions that have white as the main color, with red framing the eyes nose and mouth. The colors in different masks allow the viewer to better understand the character’s role in the narrative.
Many families enjoy visiting the Chinese Opera during the Chinese Lunar New Year. Each year is represented in the Chinese zodiac by an animal and last year, 2016, was the year of the monkey. To celebrate the year of the monkey many may have used a mask similar to this one in the festivities. The Chinese Lunar New Year celebration is a centuries old tradition that lands on the first new moon of the year, in 2017 that was January 28th. The celebration traditionally honors deities and ancestors and it is also a time to gather with family, cleanse homes to rid ill-will and welcome good fortune and prosperity for the rest of the year.
One of the first Asian groups that immigrated to Texas were the Chinese in 1870 who were employed to work on the Texas railroads. In the following six decades, because of the Chinese exclusion law, the only Chinese that entered Texas were called “Pershing Chinese” because of their aid to John J. Pershing‘s troops against the paramilitary forces of Mexican insurgent Francisco “Pancho” Villa. They were allowed to settle in San Antonio, where even in a hostile environment the culture remained. After the exclusion act was repealed, Chinese immigration resumed and continued through the decades allowing the Chinese population in the United States (and Texas) to grow. Every year San Antonio celebrates our Asian cultures at the annual Asian Festival, held this coming weekend. Get your tickets HERE. [Sara Countryman, edited by Kathryn S. McCloud]
Unknown date, likely 20th Century
Materials: Cloth, hair, Ceramic
This Japanese doll is a depiction of princess Yaegaki-Hime, the heroine of a five-act drama called Honcho Nijushiko or The 24 Models of Filial Piety. This drama was originally preformed in 1766 as a Bunraku, a Japanese puppet theater originating in Osaka, and then became a popular drama in the live acting Kabuki theater. The character of the princess Yaegaki-Hime has gained fame through the Bunraku and Kabuki plays. The Yaegaki-Hime doll presented depicts her holding the legendary helmet that had been gifted to a samurai lord named Takeda Shingen by a fox god called Suwa Myojin. The helmet is enchanted to protect the samurai who wears it so that the samurai will always win and, when in need, the helmet would summon 808 foxes to protect the owner. In the famous scene of heroinism, Yaegaki saves her lover, Katsuyori, from the wrath of her father. He had sent two men to kill Katsuyori because of a family feud, Yaegaki prayed there was something she could do and mourned for her lover. She touched the enchanted helmet and became possessed by its power, with the protection of two white foxes she ran across a frozen lake to warn Katsuyori. The climax of both Bunraku and Kabuki plays is Yaegaki’s dance as she becomes possessed by the fox spirit and saves Katsuyori. The story ends as the family feud is resolved, the lovers marry and live happily ever after.
In the Bunraku tradition, scenes are narrated by musical chanting with the accompaniment of a shamisen, which is a stringed instrument of the lute family. The narrator voices the characters using a unique emotional vocal style for each character, sometimes for important scenes there may be multiple narrators chanting together. The puppeteer, or chief handler, also plays a role in narrating the story with his own exaggerated facial expressions, he would operate the head and right hand while 2 assistants, dressed and hooded in black, control the left hand and lower body movement.
The tradition of puppet theater in Japan stems from 11th century traveling story tellers and may have been influenced by Central Asia. The style of puppets has evolved from simplistic, hand-less and leg-less puppets to intricate full bodied puppets with moveable mouths and eyes. Japanese puppet theater was considered a sophisticated, adult pastime and was immensely popular the during the Tokugwa, or Edo, Period (1600-1868). The Japanese puppet theater did not gain the name ‘Bunraku’ until the late 18th century, it derives from the troupe established by Uemura Bunrakuken in Osaka, Japan. The plays for the puppet theater were written playbooks, published in authorized editions and, at the height of the puppeteering tradition over 1,000 plays were written and performed.
A new type of Japanese entertainment emerged in the beginning of the 17th century called Kabuki, where women would play both male and female parts in storytelling with song and dance. Many of the stories in the original Kabuki tradition were those of everyday life however, many of the successful Bunraku plays were adapted for the Kabuki stage. During this period, when women played the roles, Kabuki was not deemed as sophisticated as its puppeteering counterpart. The themes of these stories were often comical, suggestive and the women were usually prostitutes. The Shogunate banned women from acting to discourage prostitution and became a tradition of performance with a completely male cast. [Sara Countryman, edited by Kathryn S. McCloud]
Visit the Asian Festival at the Institute of Texan Cultures on February 4th to see live performances of Asian music and dance.
Unknown date, likely 20th century
Materials: Paper Mache
This is a Chinese Opera mask depicting Jian Wei, a character who appeared in the The Romance of the Three Kingdoms. This traditional Chinese drama combines historic events, and legends, from the third century AD and the civil wars after the fall of the Han Dynasty. The wars between the Shu, Wu, and Wei kingdoms spawned stories of violence, betrayal, heroism, and romance.
Jiang Wei is represented with a red, white and black three tiled face with a taijitu, or yin yang, symbol on his forehead. The colors and symbols on the face of an opera character give the audience insight to the personality of the character. Red represents loyalty and courage in Chinese culture. Because his face is mostly red, it suggests an overall positive character. The taijitu on his head tells the audience that he is a Taoist master and has an immense knowledge of the universe. Jiang Wei was a historical figure who was originally a general for the Wei kingdom but his authority was not respected so he became a general of the opposing kingdom of Shu. He later became the successor to the famed Zhang Liang, however, he betrayed the Shu kingdom by manipulating them, allowing the Wei kingdom to overthrow the Shu.
Masks such as these have several purposes, they can be used for ceremonies, protection, festivals, and theater. In this case, the mask would be worn by an opera performer, today actors typically wear face paint rather than masks. Using paint is more difficult and requires skill, but it allows the actor to better convey emotion.
In the Chinese Opera there are four different types of roles. The first is the female role or dan usually young a maiden, elderly woman, or warrior woman. Second is the male role or , which refers to a young man, elderly man, or sheng combat warrior. Then there’s the clowns or chou which can be either male or female, the clowns are comical characters that can act as the villain or simply provide comic relief. Finally there’s the painted face roles, called jing, which are powerful male roles. The painted face characters usually include generals, villains, gods, supernatural beings, or other powerful characters. The singing style is different for the painted face roles, it requires a deep nasal voice. Their costumes are big and demand attention, with large shoulder pads and heavy fabric these characters take up a lot of space.
Tales like these have been an important part of Chinese literature for centuries with the opera being a form of historical education for many common, or even illiterate, Chinese peoples. However exaggerated and whimsical the operas appear, many of the stories contain historical fact in the events and characters. The legends told in the Chinese Opera have influenced the identity of the Chinese culture and people. During the mid-nineteenth century, China was in increasing contact with Europe though many western explorers. Europeans journeyed to China to learn about and study the Chinese culture, spread religion, or secure trade routes. The Chinese identity was challenged by the sudden and immense exposure to western society. The traditional tales performed in the opera encouraged and reinforced the Chinese identity. On an international level Chinese Americans brought the Peking Opera to America when there was an increase in immigration in due to the 1849 gold rush. The Chinese have used opera to continue and spread their legends and history. Today the Chinese Opera can be found in countries across the world and has influenced modern media. Chinese themes, stories, and characters play parts in video games like Dynasty Warriors, novels like Journey to the West, comic books, and some have been adapted into full-length feature films. [Sara Countryman, edited by Kathryn S. McCloud]
Materials: Wood and paper
The use of tobacco is centuries old, thought to have been discovered by the ancient Maya. There is evidence of smoking on Mayan pottery going back as far as the 10th century. In the 1600s, tobacco smoking became popular in Spain and was a symbol of wealth. Ironically, tobacco use was initially thought to be a cure for many illnesses. It wasn’t until the 1950s that the negative health effects of smoking began to be known, and it was first proven to cause cancer.
In cigars the outer layer, or wrapper, holds the tobacco together into its signature shape. This outer layer also determines much of the character and flavor of the cigar. The exterior leaves were picked while still green and go through a special aging process depending on the color and cigar type desired. Cigars today come in a variety of different shapes and sizes, with tobacco produced in many different countries and regions. The tobacco leaves filling the cigar need to be arranged in a way that forms air passages, the size of which is important to the quality of the cigar. If the airways are too small, the cigar will not burn, and if they are too large the cigar will burn too fast. Prior to the 1950s all cigars were hand folded, and getting the correct arrangement of leaves took a skilled worker. Today machines have taken over that task, by replacing the painstakingly folded inner leaves with smaller pieces of chopped up tobacco.
Henry William Finck was raised in New Orleans where he worked in the cigar making industry and learned the trade. He managed a cigar factory in New Orleans until he came to San Antonio in 1853 and started his own business with $1,000, borrowed from his life insurance.
The Finck Company made special “private label” cigars for the Travis Club, a private men’s club, founded in 1890. In 1906 the private label cigars were made only for the club, but during WWI the club members began inviting young military officers and trainees in San Antonio to join the Travis Club. These military men enjoyed the cigars so much they demanded they be sent to other military related men’s clubs. It became a widely popular brand and is still a top seller today, with an image of the original building printed on the label as a tribute to the history of the brand. Today the Finck Cigar Company is the only automated cigar factory in Texas. [Sara Countryman, edited by Kathryn S. McCloud]
B. B. Ruth
San Antonio, Texas
Materials: Cloth, , Rhinestones
This object is a lady’s hat sold by Joske’s Department Store in the early to mid-1900s. It was owned by Elise Denison Brown Lane, a long time San Antonio resident. The stamp inside the hat shows that it was made by B.B. Ruth for Joske’s Department Store.
After immigrating to Texas from Prussia in 1867, Julius Joske opened a dry goods store in San Antonio. After returning to Prussia in 1873, Joske returned to San Antonio a year later with his wife and children and reopened the store. When his sons joined the business the store name was changed to J. Joske and Sons. In 1883, after the retirement of Julius Joske, the store became known as Joske Brothers. In 1903, Alexander Joske bought out his brother and father and renamed the store Joske’s.
At the time that this hat was made for Joske’s, the store carried mostly merchandise for men and boys. After an expansion in 1909, fabric and other materials were added to the store’s inventory. This gave women the option to have dresses and other apparel made for them.
Joske’s Department Store was headquartered in San Antonio with its flagship store in what is now Rivercenter Mall. Joske’s ultimately had twenty-six stores in Texas and one in Arizona. In 1939, after an expansion, Joske’s downtown San Antonio store became the first air-conditioned store in Texas. The store was hailed as the largest department store west of the Mississippi River until it was bought by Dillard’s in 1987.
Joske’s introduced the “bargain basement” in 1877 to help those with lower incomes be able to shop at Joske’s. This area of the store featured items at discount prices. Not only did the store sell goods, they also had several eating establishments which included a restaurant called the Camellia Room. In 1960, Joske’s opened a Christmas promotional area on the fourth floor of their downtown San Antonio store called Fantasyland. There was a thirty foot tall, mechanical Santa on the roof of the store that waved his hand. There was also a train ride that took children through the display. If you have ever seen the classic holiday movie “A Christmas Story,” you can get an idea of what Joske’s Fanstasyland was like in the scene where the character Ralphie and his family look at the Christmas display windows and when they visit Santa at the department store in their town.
In 1987, The Dillard Corporation of Arkansas bought Joske’s Department Stores. All the Joske’s stores throughout Texas were renamed as Dillard’s. The building that housed the flagship Joske’s store in downtown San Antonio is still being used today and is now part of the Shops at Rivercenter mall. [Kim Grosset, edited by Joscelynn Garcia]