Threads of Time: Tradition and Change in Indigenous American Textiles

Wedding Huipíl (Blouse)



Wedding Huipíl (Blouse)


Made in a very small farming village, Santa Lucía Utatlán, this wedding blouse displays clear Spanish elements. Departing from traditional choices, this wedding huipíl has only two panels instead of the usual three. It also incorporates an elaborate machine-made lace collar and cuffs, their gathering clearly indicating the Hispanic influence. Yet the white-on-white brocade on the bottom third of the huipíl is typical of Maya wedding wear and the bands of bright colors indicate that its maker was a skilled weaver of brocade.

Tree motifs appear on the white section, either representing the ceiba (silk-cotton) tree, from whose roots the ancient Maya believe their bloodlines originated, or the pine tree, which symbolizes long life and elite status. Red, purple, and yellow are customary colors for huipiles, as are banded stripes. Zigzag bands have been identified in ancient Maya textiles as water imagery, while rhomboids and diamonds may depict the four parts of the cosmos.

The materials used in the brocade of this blouse are not the age-old cotton one might expect. New synthetic yarns are dyed with aniline dyes, giving them an extra shiny and almost brassy appearance. These choices reflect the continued Maya love of color, but alter the brightness and texture of the traditional Maya palette.

Geographic Area

Central America, Guatemala, Santa Lucía Utatlán


K’iche’ Maya




Cotton, acrylic fiber

Credit Line

Bright Collection of Guatemalan Textiles

Accession Number


Photo Credit

Photo by Bruce M. White, 2013

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