Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Published in Sacred and Ceremonial Textiles: Proceedings of the Fifth Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, Chicago, Illinois, 1996. (Minneapolis, 1997).


Copyright 1996 by the author.


Using a complex style of personal interviews and ethnographic documentary, visually rich in intimacy, lyricism, metaphor and sometimes startling images drawn from his subjects daily lives, the filmmaker looks at the role that textiles play in the lives of the Maya in Guatemala. Cloth is the first material that touches a child's body, it appears in every important event in a person’s life and is the last to touch a person at their death. In Quiche cosmology there are strong connections between house (milpa) and the huipile, both have 4 corners and 4 sides, all are reflections of the "skyearth"; the four corners and sides a boundary of earth and sky with the weaver/wearer at the center, To the Maya, cloth represents place, status and culture. Today some of these same Maya women are using images of their weaving patterns and textiles in paintings to express their hopes and dreams and to remember their culture, others wear traje from many different villages to identify themselves as part of the Maya Nation at the same time that they are studying to become experts in marketing, health care or teaching. Focusing on these changes to their life style, weaving, and textiles the filmmaker considers the impact on the Maya and their culture.