Maya Weavers

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mayan art mexico native american weavingIn most Mayan villages, women weave cloth for their family's clothing or for ceremonial, artistic, and, increasingly, commercial purposes. A Mayan woman weaves her vision of the universe and signs her work with her own personal design. Each community produces unique weaving styles and symbolic stories, reflected in the work of the region's weavers.

mayan weaving art handicrafts mexicomayan art mexico native american weavingMayan women weave the design of the universe into their cloth. Like prayers, the designs woven speak to the gods to convey wishes or reflect the glory of the universe. An embroidered scorpion calls down the rain. Cotton symbolizes clouds. A diamond represents the world. The number thirteen recalls the sun's course through the sky and underworld. Elaborate geometric designs repeated on each piece map the organization of the Mayan cosmos.

Mayan clothing dates back thousands of years, and is an important link between the pre-Colombian past and present day for the Maya. For two thousand years, the methods of weaving have barely changed, and the patterns in the cloth tell the Maya's history, mythology, and chronology.

Although Mayan men do weave, they primarily use techniques adapted from the Spanish such as knitting or the vertical treadle operated loom. Women continue to use the traditional belt loom of their ancestors.

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