Printer Friendly Version

Identity and Prestige in Mayan Textiles



Shapes and Patterns
Guatemala, Sacatepéquez, San Antonio Aguas Calientes (<strong>ah</strong>-gwas ca-lee-<strong>en</strong>-tes)<br/> Huipil, 20th century<br/> Cotton; supplementary weft patterning<br/> Minneapolis Institute of Arts<br/> Gift of Richard L. Simmons in memory of Roberta Grodberg Simmons<br/>
  Guatemala, Sacatepéquez, San Antonio Aguas Calientes (ah-gwas ca-lee-en-tes)
Huipil, 20th century
Cotton; supplementary weft patterning
Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Gift of Richard L. Simmons in memory of Roberta Grodberg Simmons

 

Look at the shapes and patterns on your clothing. What do you like about them? Why do you think a clothing designer might have chosen these particular designs?

Look carefully at the geometric patterning on the lower portion of this huipil. Notice the alternating patterns and combinations of green, lavender, black, light blue, blue, green, turquoise, purple, red, magenta, yellow-green, and white. The shapes include triangles, interlocking vertical zigzags, diamonds, and parallelograms. The wearer of this huipil would have earned admiration and attention as she walked through her village.

Woven and embroidered Mayan textiles are full of shapes and patterns. Typically, geometric shapes indicate an older design, and more naturalistic shapes indicate a newer one. Many newer textiles, however, use geometric designs as a reference to the traditions and history of Mayan art.

The village of San Antonio Aguas Calientes (which means "hot waters") is near a volcano. The women there are among the most prolific back-strap weavers in Guatemala, producing textiles for local, regional, and even international markets. This huipil is an example of marcador (mar-kah-door) double-faced (or reversible) weaving, a technique that originated in the 1930s. The artists used European sources as a basis for the designs of flowers, fruit, birds, and leaves on the shoulders. Because of their complex and difficult-to-make designs, the marcador huipiles from San Antonio Aguas Calientes are expensive. People there and in other villages consider these high-status symbols. The blue velvet edges on the neck and armholes may indicate that this huipil was sold and worn in a different village.


spacer related images 1.  + 2.  + spacer bracket spacer
spacer
spacer
1. This huipil is made in the older style of complex geometric motifs in the village of San Antonio Aguas Calientes. It features zigzags, triangles, diamonds, trapezoids, parallelograms, and dots, separated by bands of plain weave for contrast. Guatemala, Sacatepéquez, San Antonio Aguas Calientes, Huipil, c. 1970, cotton, synthetic; supplementary warp patterning, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Gift of Roberta and Richard Simmons
2. This densely woven and dazzling tzute has many examples of shapes. In addition to birds, donkeys, and people, there are complex layers of triangles, radiating diamonds, and parallelograms. Guatemala, El Quiché, Santa Maria Nebaj, Tzute, 20th century, cotton, acrylic thread; discontinuous supplementary weft patterning, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Gift of Roberta and Richard Simmons

 

spacer
   
 
September 2012