There are few places left in the modern world where ancient traditions of textile art still thrive. Among these are regions within the Far East, central Asia, and South and Central America.
In Central America the legacy of the ancient Mayans lives on among its descendants. Cotton was an important crop among the early Mayans, essential to the weaving process. Colors derived from mineral and vegetable substances were ground in stone mortars and used to dye the fibers prior to weaving. Along with the early methods of spinning and dyeing, the Mayans perfected a simple technique of weaving still used today.
Dress performs a major function in Mayan culture beyond practicality and protection; it serves to immediately identify one as belonging to a specific tribe or community. A certain headdress, for instance, would signify marital status. Decorative colors and details on a traditional huipil (blouse), would identify a specific village. While some designs have disappeared over time, new ones have been added and many of the motifs found today are from pre-Columbian times. Mayan weaving is a celebration shared between an entire group, and although each village has its own colors and patterns, each work also bears the highly personal touch of the weaver who created it. Contemporary Mayans, like their ancestors produce brightly colored designs rich in history and meaning. Often a single garment takes between two and three months to create. Weaving is a great source of pride for the men and women of Guatemala. Unfortunately, many Mayans have had to give up their weaving heritage for survival reasons.
At Wishful Living, we have an outstanding collection of Guatemalan textiles, huipils, cortes, fajas, and other beautiful hand-loomed works of art. These pieces need to be seen to be appreciated. The amount of hand work on a single piece renders it a piece of art to be displayed and admired. The bright colors and ancient motifs will liven any room and make you smile as bright as the Mayan sun.
Read more about Guatemalan textiles at Little Mango Imports.
Stack of Old Mayan Huipiles at Wishful Living, Berthoud, Colorado