While many indigenous cultures around the world are letting go their native dress in favor of western clothes like blue jeans and t-shirts, the Guatemalan Maya are still creating and wearing their traditional hand-woven clothing. “Their weaving tradition dates back over two millennia,” says Margot Blum Schevill, an anthropologist specializing in textiles and folk art. Maya women today still weave their own clothing using unique backstrap looms and ancient Pre Columbian ceramic sculptures show that versions of these traditional looms date back to 700 A.D.
There are no two huipiles exactly alike. In Guatemala, weaving is an integral part of a Maya woman’s daily life and is an important responsibility that is passed on from generation to generation. Although the textiles have evolved and there have been changes in types of threads, dyes, and designs over the centuries, the basic back strap loom has changed very little. Many types of fabric are handwoven on these looms, and every woman makes her own unique huipil, the traditional blouse still worn in these regions. The design of the huipil expresses cultural identity, role in society, and personal aesthetic.
Majestic Santiago is a town situated on Lake Atitlan that rests between two volcanoes, and is home to the Tzutukil Maya, one of the 21 ethnic groups found in Guatemala. The natural world that surrounds them is woven into the embroidery and weavings. This town is said to be the largest indigenous town in Central America where the majority continue to proudly wear their traditional dress, reflecting their ethnic identity and Mayan ancestry.
Since ancient times, the Tzutujil people have called their community Tinamit Tz’ikin Jaay, “the House of Birds.” This name represents the town’s mythology found in their embroidery. “Nature is their source,” Schevill says of the indigenous weavers, “They live with the flowers, they live with the birds. And their imagery comes from what is around them.” Birds and flowers are frequently used for decorating ceremonial garments, but are also found in daily wear like in these beautiful huipiles found on our Etsy shop Colecion Luna Vintage. https://www.etsy.com/shop/ColeccionLunaVintage