Edges of Empire

KNW 2399: Edges of Empire

Mexican Men with Baskets


Photo: Wholesale Loads of Mexican Baskets

Photographer: C.B. Waite


This particular photograph depicts three Mexican men carrying massive loads of Mexican baskets on their back.  The men are not particularly large and their stance suggests that the large quantity of baskets are weighing heavily on their bodies.  Their facial expressions would suggest that they are under enormous stress and their work load is very heavy.  It can be deducted from this photograph that these men must be laborers or slaves who are relatively low in Mexican society.  These men appear to be native to Mexico, but the description does not definitively say whether or not they are native peoples of Mexico.  This issue raises the question of slavery as a practice in Mexico was as commonplace as it was in other parts of the colonial world, as it is more commonly associated with regions like the Southern United States.  This photo clearly demonstrates massive pressure on these men to accomplish the sale or transport of these baskets.  There are also other questions that arise upon viewing the photograph.  The treatment of colonial subjects as inhuman is possibly demonstrated in this photo, as no human should be expected to carry this many baskets on their back.  However, there is no explanation as to whether or not this is a Mexican custom or normality of some kind.  It is up to the modern viewer to decide in this particular case.

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