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  • Writer's pictureSpiced Cranachan

Colours of Guatemala

Textiles I saw during during the Procession of the Immaculate Conception in Antigua, Guatemala

I'm not entirely sure what I expected when I came to Guatemala.

Certainly the green of the jungles, the coffee plantations and of course the chocolate.

But I have been completely and unexpectedly enamoured with the textiles I see here every day.

Huipils at the Local Market

I can't describe how wonderful it is to see people wearing their traditional dress. At first I believed it was merely a ploy for tourism; something for the foreigners to come and stare at and photograph.

But as I travelled throughout the country, I began to see that this was just the normal dress. Even in the less-touristy areas, I passed so many people on the street wearing bright huipiles and fajas and cortes.

It isn't often that you see this. Especially with the rise of globalisation, much of the world's culture has become one big homogeneous blob, for lack of a better word. Music and language and fashion above all have fallen prey to the shrinking world.

Every day a woman would weave her patterns in the cafe, and every day the kitten would play with them

And yet, in Guatemala they have maintained the essence of their culture. Many communities still speak Mayan - in fact, the family I lived with spoke both Spanish and K'iche'.

Visit a market or a weaver's home and odds are you'll find women hard at work with their backstrap weaving, passing their tramas back and forth and rearranging the wooden rods.

I witnessed this myself when I stayed with a weaving family in Xela and watched them work. They taught me how to make a simple pattern, and I realised quite quickly that there was nothing simple about it at all.

And while I awkwardly battled the strings of thread, these women expertly worked the colours into brilliant designs.

I was watching over 3000 years of art, passed down from generation to generation. No lesson was written down - it was merely passed along from mother to daughter, teacher to apprentice, through practice and patience.

I was fascinated watching the weavers work - I took this photo early one morning while my host family weaved outside

And the colours! Nothing muted or understated; the streets of Antigua and Xela and Chajul and Chichicastenango and so many more are awash with vibrant colours.

Fuchsia, orange, brilliant blues and greens. And each line of design formed one part of a larger pattern, be it a cat or quetzal bird. Even the simpler patterns could be mistaken for a mere zigzag or triangle, but actually represented volcanoes and mountains and maize. Even coffee beans found their way onto the textile!

I lived with weavers in Xela for a while and fell in love with this 20-year-old piece in their shop

I was heartbroken to leave the country but I rest easy in the knowledge I will surely return someday!

If you visit Guatemala be sure to keep an eye out for these designs and definitely visit or stay with a weaving family if you can. The colours you will see are so unlike anything else and the warmth of the Guatemalan people will surely welcome you into this vibrant, vibrant world.

2 comentarios

11 ene

A world so far and beautiful compared to my concrete environment

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03 ene

Such vibrant colours & so beautiful 😍

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