Google map showing its exact location. Sergio Castro, the multi-lingual private owner of the collection, provides tours by appointment. The tours are usually held around 6:00 PM. The best approach is to set it up through your hotel concierge or B&B owner. There is no fee, but donations are gratefully accepted. The money goes to provide medical care and other assistance to low-income Maya. Suggested donation is something in the range of $100 pesos ($7.78 USD) or more would be appropriate.
Looms of this sort are very ancient. The earliest woven fabrics found in Mexico were discovered in dry caves in the north and date from between 1800-1400 BC. Ixchel was the ancient Maya goddess of weaving, and she is sometimes portrayed weaving the universe with a back-strap loom. The Spanish introduced the foot-treadle loom in the 16th Century, and the French brought in mechanized weaving in the late 19th Century. However, back-strap looms have continued in use among indigenous people right up to the present.
curandero (healer) is financed, in part, by the donations of visiting tourists. Curanderos use traditional healing rituals and techniques, as well as more modern methods. Interestingly, the Maya weaving deity Ixchel was also the goddess of medicine and midwives.
huipil is a female garment, somewhat like a poncho. Made as a rectanglar piece of cloth, it has a hole in the middle for the head, and is sometimes worn as a blouse or tunic, and sometimes as an outer garment. The sides of the huipil are often sewn up, leaving holes for the arms Generally, huipils are worn with a skirt that extends down to the mid-calf.
Clothing styles differ from pueblo to pueblo
influenced by contact with other parts of the Maya world, including Guatemala and Yucatan, as well as by the various ancient civilizations of Mesoamerica, such as the Aztecs, Mixtecs and Zapotecs. When the Spanish arrived, they introduced new weaving technologies such as the foot-pedal loom. They also brought new materials such as sheep's wool from Spain and silk from the trade with the Orient. The Maya combined all of this with their traditional techniques, designs and materials to create spectacular outfits like those above and the others that follow. The style of the male hat and tunic indicate that the outfit above may have come from the pueblo of Zinacantan, not far from San Cristobál.
fashion has also appeared.
Specific articles of clothing
pishalal (wide-brimmed male hat). The men treat hat-making like some women do knitting. It is an activity that is very portable and can be done anywhere, even while chatting among friends. They will often make two new hats each year, to be worn in important pueblo festivals. Ribbons have replaced the feathers of earlier times.
ancient paintings of men wearing sandals very similar in style to this. The Maya seem to follow the old dictum, "if it works, don't fix it." Traditional Maya women peddling their wares on the streets of San Cristóbal often wear sandals even in cold, wet weather.
The Maya call the tumpline a mecapal. Given that the ancient Maya had no other beast of burden than a human being, and that many in Mexico today are too poor to afford a horse or burro, a macapal is a simple and very logical tool.
Other items of use
This completes my posting on Sergio Castro's Museo de Trajes Regional. I hope you have enjoyed it. If so, and you would like to comment or leave a question, please do so in the Comments section below or email me directly.
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Hasta luego, Jim