Traditional Garments

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mayan weaving maya artSome of the most beautiful weaving is done in the Mexican state of Chiapas. Maya living there frequently wear their traditional clothing whose designs and colors identify their native village. Maya clothing is different in every region, and even varies from village to village.


The huipil is a garment worn as a blouse by Mayan women since ancient times. It is a square or rectangular piece of cloth with a hole in the center. It is generally embroidered around the neck, in the shape of a cross. The garment is then folded in half and the sides stitched up. The stitching stops on the sides to allow for armholes. The huipil is worn over a skirt which is tied with a woven belt.

The neck is elaborately embroidered with designs representing the cosmos, the gods and their helpers. When a Mayan woman puts on her huipil, she becomes the axis of this symbolically represented universe.

playa del carmen mexico mayan clothing weavingIn the cooler mountainous areas, such as Chiapas, women also wear a tzute. This rectangular cloth can be thrown across the shoulder for decoration, or fastened around the neck as a shawl. mayan weaving art handicrafts mexicoDuring festivals, it is worn as a cape. In warmer months, it is used as a sun hat. Women sometimes wear jewelry such as necklaces, rings, and earrings.


For political and economic reasons, the costume of Maya men has changed more over the centuries. Although Maya women commonly wear the traditional huipil, Maya men have adopted more Spanish and modern influenced dress. Some traditional styles have been adapted to modern times. For example, the embroidered loincloth of pre-Colombian times is now worn as a sash or belt.

Single men generally wear brighter colored clothes than married men. In some reasons, they wear a less decorated huipil like over shirt. The shirts are decorated differently than women's huipil. Men's belts are woven on a blue or red background, and sometimes decorated. The ends are fringed or have pompons.

Wider belts called mecapal are used to carry heavy loads. This cloth or leather strip has ends which are joined together by cord. The cord is used to secure the bundle and the strip is place on the forehead.

Men also wear tzute, decorated with embroidery and worn over the shoulder. Men also wear hats, especially for ceremonial events, which vary by region. Some are straw hats decorated by ribbons or pompons. Men do not wear jewelry, but they carry a bag called a morral.

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