The Butaque. From the colonial codices to the archetype of 20th century Mexican design


  • Mercedes Josefina Hernández Padilla



Mexican armchair, Codex, Identity, Mexicanity, Mexican Design


Following the Mexican Revolution war, a program began for the dissemination of certain symbols of national identity–to redefine the Mexicanity. The search was expressed in fine and decorative arts, including furniture. In this context, the “Butaque” chair reappeared.

Architects such as Luis Barragán, William Spratling, Clara Porset, and Manuel Parra, among others, proposed their own interpretations of this traditional rural seat, inserting it into a new socio-cultural context, making it a representative piece of the 20th century Mexican furniture. Despite its significance, there have not been many studies or publications on the piece, and mystery surrounds it’s origin.

The purpose of this text is to present a hypothesis about the origin of the “butaque” in the colonial codices, and to revaluate it as a mestizo seat, that is a combination of European manufacturing techniques and technologies with materials, labor and ability of the Mexican indigenous, making it a worthy representation of Mexican cultural identity.