Nicté-Ha — The Mayan Princess Who Never Was

Photographs — Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

When I was 14 in the mid fifties in Mexico City I was unaware that I was living in a golden age of Mexican art and film. My mother and grandmother were friends of Mexicans in the arts and one of them (not Mexican) was Alma Reed a journalist of fame and a patron of the arts. Through her my mother and grandmother met Diego Rivera and other Mexican painters. I was taken to several parties and exhibitions but the only person I remember was a beautiful woman with extremely black eyes who said she was a Mayan princess. She called herself Nicté-Ha and liked to dress in white. I have no idea if the bar of the venerable Hotel Del Prado (in which there was a beautiful mural by Diego Rivera) came first or the princess as the bar was the Nicté-Ha. In 1985 the terrible earthquake that struck Mexico City demolished the hotel but with careful restoration techniques the mural was peeled off from the fallen wall.

I believe that Nicté-Ha, the Mayan princess might have been a proto Paris Hilton, who was famous for being herself. There is no on-line information on my Mayan princess. It is almost as if she may have been a figment of my imagination. A couple of years ago I photographed Ivette Hernandez as my Nicté-Ha. I used one of my mother’s blue Mexican rebozos and on Hernandez’s forehead I placed a necklace I had made for Rosemary (part of a set that includes a ring and ear rings) by my jeweler friend Jaime Vidal. The sterling silver jewelry featured the seeds from our colorín tree which I planted in our front garden when we moved to Arboledas, Estado de Mexico. This tree is the state’s official tree and the seeds are a brilliant deep red. With time they have turned even darker and are almost black.

Nicté-Ha did indeed exist

Mexican Nostalgia

Link to: Nicté-Ha — The Mayan Princess Who Never Was

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