Mayan women have been weaving for over two thousand years. When a daughter is born the midwife will take the baby at three weeks of age and run small weaving instruments through the baby’s fingers and hands praying that they will become a good weaver to maintain tradition. In Guatemala weaving is still a part of everyday life for the women. Weavings are used for exchange, tribute, payments and gifts. The Mayan women would weave clothing for their families. Mayan women would weave design into the clothing. It is believed that the design would speak to the Gods to convey wishes as well as give thanks. Some of the common designs are the scorpion which is used to call for rain, Cotton symbolizes a cloud, and a diamond is the universe design. The diamond is one of the most symbolic representing space and time. The diamond is much like a compass the top point is east because the sun rises in the east, the bottom point is the west due to sunset and left point is north and right is south. Most times the east and west point are embroidered in the color of blue to represent the oceans. The most popular materials that are used for weaving are cotton and wool. Cotton was used first until sheep were introduced in the 16th century. The most common method is belt loom still used over any other type in the Mayan culture. The belt loom has two wood ends that pull warp threads (vertical threads) tight. One end is fastened to a tree and the other to the belt of the weaver. The weaver will then weft thread (horizontal threading) and fabric will then come to life. Huipil is a popular clothing item which today is made for ceremonial occasions. One of the great honors is to design them for the statues of saints in the Mayan Catholic Church. They are well cared for and one becomes worn a master weaver will be called upon to create a new huipil for the saint. The old garment then is placed in a box for safe keeping.
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