Guatemalan Sweet Bread and Baked Goods

Guatemalan Sweet Bread

Guatemala is known to have excellent breads and baked goods.

Guatemalan Women Celebrating Holy Week, or ‘Semana Santa’

Women celebrating Semana Santa in Guatemala.

These women are celebrating ‘Semana Santa,’ or Holy Week in Antigua, Guatemala. Semana Santa is a Catholic celebration of the passion, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The entire city participates in the event. These women are dressed in traditional Mayan clothing called ‘traje.’ They are wearing ceremonial huipils (blouses) and they have ‘tzutes’ folded up on their heads.

Maria Wearing a Huipil and Holding Pineapple Cake

Woman in Traditional Dress With Pineapple Cake

Maria is showing off the beautiful (and tasty) pineapple upside down cake she baked. She is dressed in traditional Mayan clothing called ‘traje.’ Her pink top is called a huipil. Huipils are handmade and reflect the wearer’s personality and what village she is from.

Guatemalan Women Dressed in Traditional Mayan ‘Traje’

Traditional Maya Clothing in Guatemala Called 'Traje'

Woman in Guatemala have passed down their traditional dress called ‘traje’ for centuries. The tops are called ‘huipils’ and the skirts are ‘cortes’. The Mayan culture has used the same techniques of weaving textiles for generations and continue to do so today. The intricate brocade decor on the huipils varies slightly from village to village, but the patterns and their meanings have not changed since the classic Maya period. Not only is traje an important component of the Guatemalan culture, the tradition of weaving provides a viable income for the weavers and artisans who make these textiles to provide for their families.

Guatemalan Women Wearing ‘Tzutes’ and Holding Candles

Guatemalan Women With Tzutes

Tzutes are an important part of Mayan traditional dress. They are worn by both women and men and serve many purposes. They can be used as a shawl, for carrying babies or goods, covering food, or even for ceremonial purposes. Often you will see them folded up and worn on the head as to protect the wearer from the sun and so it is readily available to use if needed. Just like huipils, the tzute can help identify the user’s village by the bright colors and patterns. They are hand woven and vary in size and length.

Little Girl Wearing Traditional Mayan Dress Holding Worry Dolls

Little Girl Holding Dolls

This little girl is wearing traditional Mayan clothing. In her basket are small dolls called ‘Worry Dolls.’ The children of Guatemala tell one worry to each doll and place it under their pillow at night. In the morning their troubles are gone!

Guatemalan Woman and her Daughters Wearing Traditional Mayan Clothing

Girls Wearing Huipils.

This is a woman with her two young girls dressed in traditional Guatemalan clothing. The tops women wear are called huipils. They are made from panels of textiles handwoven on a backstrap loom. Each huipil is unique and decorated with intricate brocade designs.

Guatemalan Woman Weaving on a Backstrap Loom

Guatemalan Woman Weaving on a Backstrap Loom

The art of weaving on a backstrap loom dates back to ancient Maya and has been passed down through the many generations of Guatemalan Women. It is the process in which they create beautiful vibrant colored textiles and Huipils. The weaver starts with raw cotton, which they clean, dye, and spin into thread. The thread is made into a warp and placed on the loom where she can then begin weaving. Many times intricate brocade and embroidery patterns are incorporated into the cloth. The process of weaving has changed very little over time and the techniques used today are virtually the same as they have been for hundreds of years.

Guatemalan Weaver Utilizing a Yarn Winder to Wrap Yarn Around Pegs on Warping Board

Guatemalan Woman creating a warp from thread on a yarn winder.

Guatemalan women have been weaving on backstrap looms for centuries. They first start with raw cotton that they clean, dye, and spin. The dry thread is wound around a yarn winder to keep it from tangling while they weave it in and out of the pegs on a warping board. This warp will be set on the bars of the backstrap loom, and then they can begin the process of weaving Huipils and other beautiful textiles.

Candis Krummel Winding Yarn Around Pegs on a Warping Board

Guatemalan women wind yarn around the pegs of a warping board to create the warp when weaving textiles on a backstrap loom.

For many generations the women of Guatemala have woven beautiful Huipils and other textiles on backstrap looms. They start with raw cotton to make the yarn. After the weaver has prepared the yarn the next step is to wind it around pegs on a warping board. The different colored strings are crossed at some points to separate the colors and create a striped pattern. This is called a ‘warp’ and it is attached to bars of the backstrap loom when it is finished. The length of the warp determines how long the textile will be.

Candis Krummel’s Weaving Center and Museum is a must-see if you are visiting Santiago Atitlan.