Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Girls of Guatemala

This is a good place to talk about the traditional clothing the girls and women wear in the highlands of Guatemala. It consists of a piece of fabric wrapped around several times as a skirt, a blouse with specific designs on it, tucked into the skirt and held with a belt, also with specific designs that signify what geographical area they are from.


 Notice the matching blue head dresses on these two women below. What they wear on their heads can also be part of their traditional costume, with the print, design and color having significant meaning.

These girls waiting for a bus are dressed more modestly than any girls you'll see of the same age in the U.S. Note how the skirts come below the knee, and the blouse has sleeves and a high neck. 



The Mayan clothing is beautiful, colorful, modest and worn throughout the country. The girls of Guatemala are dressed this way from the time they are quite young. Nothing is more charming than seeing a three-year-old girl in her traditional outfit, stepping daintily alongside her mother, as though she is the most beautiful princess in the world.

Not to say they never wear American styles, because they do on occasion. Used American clothes are available in the stores called "pacas," and are less costly than the traditional dress costume.

But the hand-made Mayan clothing continues to be worn today as it has for thousands of years, providing the girls of Guatemala with an identity. They carry the pride of belonging to an ancient culture with dignity, and it gives them a fresh, confident, quiet beauty that being decked out in the latest fashions could never provide.



15 comments:

  1. How lovely they all look - I'm particularly interested in the head gear. Seems so intricate!

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  2. Oh how pretty!! And love how their clothing has such distinct value to them and means so much! I really love the orange-ish colored top with the flowers. It's something I would wear.

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  3. It's sad that used American clothes are cheaper than traditional. I'd hate to see them lose such a big part of their identity.

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    1. Maria, I don't think that will ever happen. The families will make sacrifices elsewhere to make sure the girls and women have their traditional clothing.

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  4. Very colorful. At least the young girls don't go out dressed inappropriately like they do here.

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  5. The traditional clothing is wonderful and very colorful. It makes me think that these are contented people.

    Funny thing, though, is that many American fashions are manufactured in Guatamala.

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  6. My dad was on a medical expedition to Guatemala in 1944 and brought back a length of beautiful handwoven fabric to wrap abound as a skirt, and a top and a little silk pouch to hang from a belt. I still have the fabric. Being in Guatemala was a very happy time for him. He said Lake Atitlan was beautiful.

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    1. I think you mentioned that he had done a medical expedition on one of my earlier posts, maybe last year during the Challenge. I imagine if he came back now, he'd find it quite changed. Not so much in the hills, but in the towns where things are a lot more modern. A lot of medical and dental professionals give time and come to provide care for the people. It's a wonderful work they do.

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  7. Hi Karen - it's great they stick to their traditional dress .. good to know - cheers Hilary

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  8. Oh these are beautiful! I love traditional outfits. I used to have a dirndl (German) and these outfits they wear are wonderful. I would want to buy a skirt or 2 and a couple of blouses for sure and I would wear it!

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  9. Don't they also turn their old clothing into other items - purses, wallets, etc? I have several things a friend brought me from Guatemala - an eyeglasses case, change purse, etc. that were made from clothing and they are colorful and beautiful.

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    1. Suzanne, They use the lengths of fabric for so many things-- table coverings, wraps to carry a baby while they walk, folding up into a bag for hauling something, often then putting it on top of the head. They cut up and sew fabric to make all kinds of crafts to sell to tourists. It's fun to walk down the street and see how creatively they've used their materials.

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  10. I love the hodgepodge way the US takes things from other cultures but this reminds me we've lost some things.

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  11. That is so cool! hopefully, they'll keep wearing those beautiful traditional clothing for many more years to come and keep passing it down to the next generation.

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