How Guatemalan Traditions Work

Traditional Guatemalan Clothing

Guatemalan village, clothes
Streetlife in a Guatemalan village. Note the people wearing traditional clothing.

Often, when people of one culture assimilate to another culture, the traditional style of dressing can quickly become obsolete. This is certainly not the case with the descendants of the Mayans in Guatemala [source: Rutahsa Adventures]. These proud people boldly wear their traditions on their sleeves. Literally.

The native dress of the Mayans -- which is called traje -- may vary by village and language group. But the intent of native dressing remains the same: To preserve the rich culture history provided by the Mayans from days of long ago. To Guatemalans, their native costumes are their identity. There are 22 Mayan ethno-linguistic groups, which mean a wide variety of colors, emblems and styles in costumes. But bold colors like reds, blues, yellows and pinks are found on all types of dress [source: Rutahsa Adventures].


For example, in Nebaj, a town located in the Altos Cuchumatanes Mountains, the Mayan language of Ixil is spoken. The women honor their ancestors by wearing a red corte (skirt) with yellow stripes held up by a woven faja (belt or sash). The women also wear a huipil (a traditional square-cut blouse) made with embroidered designs. A shawl drapes over one shoulder, which can be used to carry a baby around. Mayan women put a lot of effort into the colorful weavings and intricate patterns of their huipils.Their outfit is made complete with an intricate headdress [source:Rutahsa Adventures].

A man from the same area may wear a chaqueta or open jacket, a locally made straw hat and Western-style sweater and trousers. The men are more likely than women to adopt some Western-style clothing as it is cheaper and more practical than the traditional hand-made garments. However, women with weaving skills are highly desired by men seeking wives [source: Rutahsa Adventures].

Even the children value the importance of preserving their historic Maya past by dressing in traje when they attend school.