Threads of Time: Tradition and Change in Indigenous American Textiles

Jacket for a Male Saint Effigy

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Jacket for a Male Saint Effigy


Unlike jackets, which were introduced by the Spanish, capes date back to representations of ancient Maya rulers. Light red with brocaded animals, this would have been worn by a santo over his camisa. The upper register features birds, while the animals on the lower register appear to be supernatural in nature. Bird motifs are found across highland Maya clothing, placed on garments of every kind for either gender. The birds on the red cape most closely resemble, eagles, falcons, or hawks, all of which served as nawales, or shamanic animal spirits.

Geographic Area

Central America, Guatemala, Sololá


Kakchikel Maya




Cotton, velvet

Credit Line

Bright Collection of Guatemalan Textiles

Accession Number


Photo Credit

Photo by Michael McKelvey, 2017

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