What to Wear and How to Wear It

Because Mayan clothing can communicate so much information about the wearer, each item of clothing becomes quite important. Fashion trends, such as the cut of a man's shirt or the length of a woman's skirt, can be specific to a particular village, but the same basic elements make up the Mayan clothing ensemble, regardless of the village, state, or nation of the wearer. Men usually wear a shirt, pants, a hat, and usually a sash or belt. Throughout Mesoamerica, men carry bags made of wool or maguey fiber. Women generally are seen wearing a huipil or blouse, a corte or skirt, and a sash. They also carry a shawl that serves myriad functions. It can keep them warm on a cool morning or be used to carry a child on their back. Some women use these shawls to carry their produce to the market or their purchases home from a day of shopping.

Shown below are the basic components of traditional Mayan clothing. While the people of a particular village may not wear every single item of clothing shown below, they likely wear the most basic pieces, like shirts, pants, and skirts. And because there are many different Mayan languages, the words used to describe a particular piece of clothing in one village may be different than that used in another. Shown below are the names of the items of clothing in English, Spanish, and two of the most widely spoken Mayan languages, Kakchiquel and Quiche.


Identification of parts of clothing

 

English
Spanish
Kakchiquel
Quiche
blouse
huipil
po't
--
overblouse
sobrehuipil
rij po't
--
skirt
corte, falda
korte, uq
uuq
sash
faja
pas
paas
hair ribbon
cinta
--
xaq'ap
carrying cloth
tzute
su't
--
shawl
rebozo
q'ub'el
--
shirt
camisa
kamxa'
--
overshirt
capixay
--
--
pants
pantalón
kaslon
--
overpants
sobrepantalon
estameya
--
jacket
chaqueta
koton
katon
belt
cinturón
--
--
hat
sombrero
payi'aj
--
apron
rodillera
lantar
--
shoulder bag
bolsa, morral
peqes
chiim
sandals
sandalias
--
--
necklace
collar
--
--
earrings
arete
ichinaj chin chi xikin
--
mask
máscara
--
--
headdress
tocoyal
--
--