Symbolism in Guatemalan Textiles Part 1

One of the most fascinating facets of Guatemalan culture is the indigenous traje. The huipil worn as a kind of blouse by women is the most commonly known part of a traje. The weaving techniques, colors, and designs have been repeated for centuries as each generation has passed the knowledge down to the next. When you purchase a handwoven Guatemalan textile, therefore, you will then hold something very precious, something unique – a representation of Guatemalan identity and a piece of its history, in fact. Each textile has designs and colors that symbolize aspects of Guatemala’s history, beliefs, and cosmovision.

A huipil is usually woven on a backstrap loom and can take months to create, which makes them incredibly valuable. Sometimes when people are seeking to purchase a huipil they are surprised by the price, but that is because they do not know the amount of elaborate work that goes into every single piece.

In 2019, the newspaper Prensa Libre published a series of articles detailing the background of some of the colors and symbols in the textiles, and we would like to share some of that with you.

The most common colors that are repeated in Guatemalan textiles are blue, red, black, white, yellow, and green. There is some debate about their symbolism, but it is generally believed that each represents the following:

Blue: The sky and water
Red: Sunrise, daytime, and energy
Black: Sunset, nighttime, death, and recuperation
White: Air, spirituality, and everything that is untouchable
Yellow: The sun and corn
Green: All plant life on earth

If you have Mayan textiles at home or if you are thinking of buying one, look at their colors with a new eye and gain a deeper appreciation for these works of art.

Stay tuned for Part 2, coming soon!!

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