Indigenous Peoples’ Day, celebrated on the second Monday in October, is an important holiday that seeks to honor and celebrate Native populations and their customs. It’s a day where Native culture, history and contributions should be embraced and brought to light.
Today we will take a peek into the traditional clothing of Guatemala’s resilient Mayan women and girls.
When you travel to Guatemala you’ll experience its beautiful traditions, languages, food, music and best of all, the people. Guatemala is made up of many different cultures, ethnicities and religions. All the people that make up Guatemala are unique in their own way but a group, indigenous to Guatemala, that vibrantly stands out is known as the Maya.
When we say they stand out, we really mean it! The Maya wear colorful and intricate clothing called a traje [trah-hey]. The tools needed to create their ornate and detailed clothing dates back more than 1,000 years. The garments are handwoven from cotton using a backstrap or standing loom to weave the beautiful designs. Often times weavers will use natural dyes such as flowers, minerals and herbs to achieve the brilliant colors on their trajes.
A picture is said to be worth a thousand words and the same can be said for the traje. The designs often portray symbols that give you a deeper insight into the individual wearing them. The handwoven designs may represent where an individual is from, their spiritual beliefs, personality, or they can even indicate the wearer’s marital status.
From head to toe, most traje ensembles are made up of four different articles of clothing, huipil (blouse), the faja (belt/sash), the corte (skirt) and the cinta (headband). Many Guatemalans wear trajes as a way to connect to their roots and feel more connected with their ancestors. The unique pieces of clothing give a quick glimpse into the lives of the resident and proud Maya that have been prospering for thousands of years. The clothing is still considered sacred to this day.
To fully connect with the heart and soul of Guatemala you have to connect with its people. The people of Guatemala are the key to fully venturing into its vibrant culture. To fully immerse yourself into the culture learning about the tiniest details down to the clothing is key. The Maya’s beautiful clothing was in danger of disappearing due to colonization. It’s important to understand why the Maya boldly and proudly wear trajes instead of assimilating to keep their cultures alive.
Common Hope proudly partners with the community of San Rafael El Arado. This community is made of approximately 1,550 residents, all of who are Maya.