In Guatemala, Avian Amigas Don Fanciful Rainbow Bird Garb

In Guatemala, Avian Amigas Don Fanciful Rainbow Bird Garb

Rachel Nuwer
Published: 08/11/2011


Colorful birds adorn a traditional huipil. Credit: RNuwer   
    
Guatemala’s highlands are an explosion of color. Volcanoes shrouded in jungley green loom over craterous jade lakes. Nature’s palette doesn’t stop in the forest, either. Indigenous Mayans celebrate the landscape by incorporating festive environmental images onto their hand-woven blouses. Each town has its own distinct style, and colors range from neon pink to sunshine yellow. For birders in particular, the Maya fashion is a must-see: ladies often boast shirts covered in dozens of intricate, hand-woven birds.
    
While many indigenous cultures around the world are shedding their native dress in favor of blue jeans and t-shirts, Guatemalan Maya still proudly sport their traditional clothing. “Their weaving tradition dates back over two millennia,” says Margot Blum Schevill, an independent anthropologist specializing in textiles and folk art. Maya women today still weave their own clothing using unique backstrap looms, and ancient sculptures show that early versions of these traditional devices date back to 700 A.D.
                                                                                                 

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