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Mayan Embroidery

Apr 5, 2012 | No Responses

Colour is everywhere in Mexico, and walking through the streets you’ll be hit by an array of bold shades pulled from a palate of tropical influences.  Even in their traditional dress you’ll find a medley of colours all meticulously embroidered on cloth, depicting symbols and motifs unique to the origin in which the customary practice emerged.  A practice that is still very widespread in Mayan communities.

Each piece represents a diverse interpretation related to social, economic and political functions or mythical tales of nature and the gods.  This traditional art form has been around for centuries, and the knowledge passed down through generations.  Whatever the purpose each opens a gateway to the past.

The Yucatan, the eastern region of Mexico, and the Chiapas highlands, an area southwest of Mexico, have distinctive textile traditions.  Oaxaca is famous for their embroidered designs, and account for approximately 53% of Mexico’s indigenous population.

Techniques have been passed down from their ancestors, with little influence to prevent, taint or tarnish the traditions.  Over the years little has changed in the actual design and construction but as the Industrial era moved in synthetics became more commonly employed.  Each embroidered piece is specific to a region and through different elements, like shape and intricacy, social status can be identified.  Designs illustrate patterns that mirror images of animals, humans or plants as well as, mythical shapes reflective of Aztec and Mayan roots.

Social class is reflective in embroidered garments; the more elaborate the details the more important the costume.  The importance of maintaining this tradition is at the heart of the Mayan communities.  At the core the stories unveiled on the garments are a form of self expressions and that is the true definition of what fashion is all about.

Author: Janelle Brandon

As our dedicated travel writer, Janelle scours Cancun and the Riviera Maya for all the cool things to do around here. From working and living to getting around, and, of course, the best beaches (she loves her sun and sand). Janelle lets you know how it is. As our Chief Operations Officer she makes sure we are not skipping out on work to laze on the beach (although sometimes she joins us). She's a pleasure to have around and always making us laugh with her crazy stories.

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