Mayan Dress in Santiago de Atitlan

Thank you to Duncan Aitken for providing this information.

Atitlan GuipilSantiago Atitlan is justifiably famous for it's weaving. Their native dress or "traje" (pronounced "trähe") of the women consists of four main articles of clothing. First there is the blouse or "guipil" (hueepeel), then the skirt or "corte" (court + e). A shawl, or "rebozo" ("re" as in red, "bozo" as in the clown), is usually at hand no matter what the weather. Finally there is the celebrated hair belt or "xk'op"; the pronunciation of which is as bazzar as it looks. It is sort of like "shk-úp" with a wierd brake between the "k"and "o".

The women of Santiago utilize both embroidery and supplemental weft in weaving their guipils. The results of both techniques look similar but are actually quite different. As we all know, embroidery is sewn in with needles once the cloth is woven. Supplemental weft is added as the cloth is being woven.

Atitlan EmbroideryGuipils are woven on back-strap looms. Two equal panels are sewn together. A neck hole is cut out. Then the guipil is embroidered. Finally the sides are stitched together and the guipil is ready to wear.

The corte is woven on a treadle loom and includes ikot. Ikot, to over simplify a very complicated process, is a dyeing technique like tie dying only the tread is dyed before the cloth is woven. I personally think that the corte of Santiago is the finest in all of Guatemala.

"Rebozos" are the all-purpose cloth. They serve all kinds of needs from raincoat to baby-carrier, to shopping bag, to dishrag. They act as padding when carrying things on their head. Young woman will coyly hide behind them if some cute young man looks their way.

Atitlan BackstrapThe xk'op is a colorful belt that must be a good twenty meters long. It is wrapped around a woman's head and looks like a very thick brimmed hat with no crown. I find it to be the most exotic aspect of the Santiago traje, though the "Atitecas", as they are called, are anything but mundane looking without them.

In fact between the colorful clothing, the vibrant foliage, the enormous volcanos and the deep blue lake, Santiago has to be one of the most exotic places on earth.

By the way a xk'op is more commonly known as a "tocoyal" in most of Guatemala. Xk'op is the Tzutujil name for it.

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