The brilliant colors of Mayan textiles are a main symbol of Guatemala…each pueblo has its own distinct colors and pattern. The women and girls in my town do wear at least the typical falda or skirt, including my host sisters and mother. It takes about 3months to weave the blouse or huipil…and so it is a challenge to preserve this customary dress. As can be expected, many women don´t want to spend the money or time to create these outfits. So the case of one weaver who created her first guipil at age 12 is becoming more rare. There is also the case of women wanting variety and so they purchase the patterns from other pueblos, thus, there is less empahsis on wearing only the dress specific to that town.
There is a Mercado de Artesania (Artisan shop) in my town which is a cooperative with 33 families who sell various textile products. The colors and choices of purses, blankets, belts, etc is overwhelming! With the large tourist town of Antigua less than 20 miles away, it is a challenge to bring business here. However, one weaver told me that tourists do want to come to see how the weavings are made, and so they come for that. Our work within the next 2months may be to work with this cooperative and brainstorm some ideas for increasing their business.
I look forward to the Dia of Independencia, Sept 15th…a big fiesta day. There will be parades and bands and fireworks. In my town the little kids will dress up in the indigenous outfits, so it will be a visual treat that day!