The pueblos of Nebaj and Chajul lie shrouded in the mist high up in the mountains of Guatemala’s Highland Region. Early in the morning, one can watch the beautiful women in these towns preparing for their day dressed in decorative traje or traditional clothing. Their multicolored hand-woven huipils (blouses) and wraparound cortes (skirts), set off with a faja or sash at the waist, make for a parade of color as the streets come alive.
Traje or traditional clothing has deep cultural significance for the Mayas, with colors and patterns used to distinguish the weaver’s home place. Traje represents a tie to the past and to the ancestors. For historic, political and economic reasons, it’s mostly the women who are the bearers of this tradition.
A lengthy rectangular rebozo (shawl) and a decorated delantal (apron) are also part of traje. A glass bead necklace accented with small silver or gold hoop earrings, along with colored ribbons braided in the hair, complete the wardrobe.
The shirts and skirts pictured here are made from the same fabrics the Mayan women use for their skirts. Found only in these two areas of Guatemala, the fabrics are woven from the finest cotton fibers giving them a soft silky jersey feel. Fabrics similar in look are now available in the market at Nebaj, but with their synthetic blend they are not the quality I insist upon. To serve my customers, I have finally been able to locate a small, family run business that offers fabric selections with the quality I was after. The shirts, skirts, and jackets made from these fabrics, like all my merchandise, are available in limited supply.