Continuing with our look at the soldado de cuera’s uniform, let’s remember that the Royal Regulations of 1772 authorized, “una chupa corta de tripe, ó paño azul, con una pequeña vuelta y collarin encarnado, calzon de tripe azul . . .”
Vaguely enough, paño means almost any kind of woolen cloth, but we can assume that the authors had in mind something that was suitable for uniforms. A number of different woolen cloths were available to the presidios, imported from Mexico and Europe. One that is often mentioned in connection with presidial uniforms is paño de Querétaro. I have not found an 18th century description of this fabric, but an English traveler in the 1820s wrote during a visit to the northern Mexican city of Santiago de Querétaro that,
[A] low broad cloth is made here, with which all the troops are clothed, and the poor people make their mangas.* The quality is about equal to that of the three to four shillings narrow Yorkshire . . . it is about a yard and one-third wide . . .
This suggests that paño de Querétaro resembled kersey, a fabric woven in Yorkshire that was similar to broadcloth but was narrower, lighter and had a rougher surface, according to the noted textile historian, Florence Montgomery.
But paño, woolen cloth, was only mentioned second in the 1772 regulations. The first, and I believe preferred, uniform fabric was tripe [pronounced “tree-pay”], which was a kind of wool velvet.
Others have translated tripe differently, often as “shag,” which in the 18th century meant “a heavy worsted fabric with a long nap, related to duffel, coating and blanket,” according Florence Montgomery. But Spanish dictionaries of the 1700s define tripe as similar to velvet but made of wool. It was certainly the same fabric as French trippe, a “velvet stuff of woolen pile and warp of goat's hair,” again according to Montgomery. Supply records for the Santa Barbara Presidio in California include a 1797 order for “3 p[ie]zas de Tripe de Francia buena calidad” (3 pieces of good quality French trippe).
“Velvet” is a weave, not a fiber. Velvets are woven with a “pile” or loops in the weft threads that are usually cut off to produce a soft, plush surface. Before modern synthetics, silk was the most popular fiber for velvets, but cotton and wool were also used and, of course, were much cheaper.
Wool velvets are hard wearing fabrics and tripe or trippe, with its goat hair warp, must have been particularly tough. Notice that the regulations list only tripe for the breeches. There are countless references to the use of tripe in the Spanish Southwest and California, both by name and by such terms as “plush” and “velvet.” For example, tripe was included in the official price list for essential goods in the 1729 Regulation for all Presidios of the of the Internal Provinces of this Jurisdiction. And the Jesuit father, Ignaz Pfefferkorn, gives an idea of its importance when he describes the clothing worn by soldiers and civilians in Sonora (including part of Arizona) in circa 1765. “Their breeches are of red or blue plush.”
Indigo was the likely dye used for the blue fabric of the soldados de cuera’s uniforms, whether tripe or cloth. But it is impossible to tell exactly what shade was worn since, as far as I know, no presidial uniforms survive, not even fragments. And even if one did, we could not be certain how typical it was since each presidio purchased its own uniforms or the fabrics to make them. But pictures from circa 1760 – 1780, and often later, show that the blue cloth used for uniforms in this period, both in Spain and her New World colonies, usually ranged from a light medium shade to no darker than a new pair of jeans.
The collar and cuffs of the uniform are described as encarnado, which is literally “meat colored” – its root is the Spanish word carne. I believe that the name was meant to evoke the bright blood red of freshly butchered meat. For clarity, I translate it as “scarlet,” even though escarlata is the Spanish word for that color. But it is probable that encarnado was used in the regulation to indicate that the cuff and collar fabric should be dyed with the best scarlet pigment then availabe – cochineal.
This dye is made from the bodies of the cochineal insect, which were found originally in Central and South America. In their dried form, which is how they were processed, they were called grana because they resembled grain. In the late-1600s a Dutch chemist is said to have accidentally dripped a solution of tin into a dish of cochineal pigment and the chemical reaction created a bright scarlet dye that resisted fading. Cochineal was used in various tints and mixed with other dyestuffs and chemicals to create a range of colors, from rose pink to deep violet. But alone, with tin as the “mordant” (a substance that sets the dye on the fabric and affects its color), cochineal, grana, creates a vibrant, true scarlet.
Eighteenth century ordinances of the dyer’s guild in Mexico City mention such shades as morado de grana (mulberry cochineal), envinado de grana (wine-colored cochineal), and also tinto en grana ó encarnardo.
Because this last phrase does not refer to anything else, such as mulberries or wine, I believe that it was meant to express the pure cochineal scarlet at full strength with its tin mordant. This is supported by the fact that when, in 1779, the Santa Barbara Presidio in California ordered replacement uniforms from Mexico for its soldados de cuera, it specified that the chupas de tripe should have buelta y collarin de pano de segunda tinte de grana or “cuff[s] and collar of second [quality] wool cloth, dyed with cochineal.”
My next post will return to the cut of the chupa corta as well as such details as lapels, buttons and linings.
*Similar to ponchos.
A. On the Trail. Illustration by David W. Rickman for the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail, (detail).
B. Swatch of Kersey from a Yorkshire pattern book, c. 1770. From Florence Montgomery, Textiles in America, plate D-102A.
C. Swatches of moquette, c. 1760. This fabric was nearly identical to trippe except that it was woven on a linen warp rather than goat hair. From Florence Montgomery, Textiles in America, plate D-52.
D. Diagram of simple velvet weave. Original source unknown. http://www.renaissanceconnection.org/fragmentSilk.php
E. Velvet breeches (probably silk), European or American, second half of the 18th century. Original source unknown. http://ketutarwriting.blogspot.com/2011/09/hobbits-and-wonderland.html
F. Casta painting, c. 1760, showing Spanish soldier in a blue uniform faced yellow. M. C. García Saiz, Las Castas Mexicanas: Un Género Pictórico Americano. S.l.: Olivetti, 1989.
G. Private’s uniform, Fijo de Luisana Regiment, 1785 (Uniforme 54, Archivo General de Indias, Sevilla), courtesy of René Chartrand.
H. Painting of Mexican gathering cochineal beetles and the the live beetles, c. 1770. National
I. Dried cochineal insects (grana) and a ball of dyed woolen yarn. http://www.cuzcoeats.com/2013/05/the-people-of-chinchero-keep-inca-weaving-alive/
J. Man’s coat, American c. 1770, likely dyed with cochineal, Colonial Williamsburg, Acc. No. 1953-59. http://emuseum.history.org/view/objects/asitem/classification@32/224/title-desc?t:state:flow=1ed2c714-a66c-412c-b8a2-fea904628351
K. Casta painting, c. 1770-1780, showing Spanish gentleman dressed in a red coat for hunting. M. C. García Saiz, Las Castas Mexicanas: Un Género Pictórico Americano. S.l.: Olivetti, 1989.
 1. El vestuario de los soldados de presidio ha de ser uniforme en todos, y constará de una chupa corta de tripe, ó paño azul, con una pequeña vuelta y collarin encarnado [1. The clothing of the presidial soldiers will be uniform for all, and consist of a short, sleeved waistcoat of blue wool velvet or cloth, with a small scarlet cuff and collar, breeches of blue wool velvet . . .]. See Brinckerhoff and Faulk, 1965, 18-21.
 The Academia Usual dictionary of 1780 defines paño as, “Woolen cloth of various classes employed for clothing and other uses. According to quality, type or construction, they are given various names,” [La tela de lana de varias estofas que sirve para vestirse y otros usos. Segun su calidad, suertes, ó fábrica toman varios nombres]; for a list of the wide varieties of cloth purchased by just one presidio over several decades, see the index to Georgio Perissinotto, et al, Documenting Everyday Life in Early Spanish California: The Santa Barbara Presido Memoria y Facturas, 1779-1810. Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation, 1998, 395;
 Edward B. Penny, A Sketch of the Customs and Society of Mexico in a Series of Familiar Letters; and a Journal of Travels in the Interior during the Years 1824, 1825, 1826. London: Longman and Co., 1828, 124-125.
 Florence M. Montgomery, Textiles in America 1650-1870. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1984, 178, 272-273.
 The Academia Usual of 1780 defines tripe as “Cloth similar to velvet, and distinguished from it by being a woolen fabric.” [Tela parecida al terciopelo, y se distingue de él en ser texido de lana]; for definitions of shag and trippe, see Florence M. Montgomery, Textiles in America 1650-1870, 345, 368.
Georgio Perissinotto, et al, Documenting Everyday Life in Early Spanish California: The Santa Barbara Presido Memoria y Facturas, 1779-1810. Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation, 1998, 282.
 In simplest terms, the “warp” threads run vertically, or up and down, the entire length of the fabric. The “weft” threads run horizontally, or side to side, for the width of the fabric. The warp threads are attached to the loom and the weft threads are woven onto them. For a more technical and detailed description of warp and weft and of velvets, see Irene Emery, The Primary Structures of Fabrics; an Illustrated Classification. Washington, D.C. The Textile Museum, 1980, 74, 175; see also Florence M. Montgomery, Textiles in America, 370.
 Thomas H. Naylor and Charles W. Polzer, Pedro de Rivera and the Military Regulations for Northern New Spain, 1724-1729; A Documentary History of his Frontier Inspection and the Reglamento de 1729. Tucson, The University of Arizona Press, 1988, 285, 333; Father Pfefferkorn, who was German, wrote, “Ihre Hosen sind von blaue oder rotem Plüsch.” See, Beschreibung der Landschaft Sonora samt andern merkwürdigen Nachrichten von den inneren Theilen Neu-Spaniens und Reise aus Amerika bis in Deutschland, 2 vols. Kőln am Rhein, 1794, 421.
 Indigo was not the only blue dye available in this era, but it was extremely popular. First imported into Europe from India by the Portuguese in 1520, by the 18th century, Spain, France and England all grew huge amounts of indigo in their overseas colonies. See, Susan Kay-Williams, The Story of Colour in Textiles; Imperial Purple to Denim Blue. London: Bloomsbury, 2013, 84 and François Delamare and Bernard Guineau, Colour Making and Using Dyes and Pigments. London, Thames & Hudson, 2000, 92.
 See, Max L. Moorhead, "The Private Contract System of Presidio Supply in Northern New Spain". The Hispanic American Historical Review. 41, no. 1, 1961, 31-54.
 According to the 1780 edition of the Academia Usual, encarnado means “Dyed the color of meat” [Teñido de color de carne.]
 Gösta Sandberg, The Red Dyes: Cochineal, Madder and Murex Purple; A World Tour of Textile Techniques. Asheville, North Carolina: Lark Books, 1997, 45-47, 52, 54-55, 176-177.
 Dorothy Boyd and Trish Spillman, “Natural and Synthetic Dyes,” in Spanish Textile Traditions of New Mexico and Colorado, edited by Nora Fisher, pp. 207-211. Santa Fe: Museum of New Mexico, 1979, 209; François Delamare and Bernard Guineau, Colour Making and Using Dyes and Pigments, 74.
 Georgio Perissinotto, et al, Documenting Everyday Life in Early Spanish California, 48-49. The authors translate tinte en grana as “scarlet-dyed”