Wear it with Pride (Part 2)

Wear it with Pride (part 2)

Lo que no se conoce no se ama
One can not love what one does not know
— Julia Montoya

Source: Interview to Julia Montoya, author of With their hands and their eyes in Revista Domingo, September 7, 2007 {ñ}

What I admire the most from the indigenous people of Guatemala is their resilience. They have taken everything thrown at them and they have made it theirs with infinite layers of meaning, tradition and history. So you take the Spanish dance Moros y Cristianos (Moors and Christians) brought by the conquistadors and the Spanish Inquisition and the native Guatemalans turned into something that belongs to them with several coats of mysticism, like a chipped wall in Antigua showing its different paint jobs.

These dances look all the same to us ladinos (mixed), but those who study them and know better, the transformed indigenous dances are fountains of knowledge into the Mayan mysticism, symbolism, and cosmology.

For those of us fortune enough to be able to read Spanish, we can access the wealth of articles, interviews and background information about the traje indí­gena (indigenous dress) available in the past issues of Revista Domingo. With all these archives we can delve into trying to answer some of conflicting feelings, questions and concerns.

Let us begin pues:

Emromesco stated that traditional Mayan dress was practically forced onto the indigenous people of Guatemala in colonial times by landlords. Like always, truth is like a diamond with many faces, and I believe it was more like Stephanie pointed out; the landlord just exploited something that was already happening. Nevertheless, the traje indí­gena did not existed as we know it now in Pre-Colombiam times. As a matter of fact, as indios were forced to dress up as to not offend the Spanish morality and chastity, the Amerindians of Guatemala saw an opportunity to perpetuate their beliefs through the weaving.

Then MO asked, are the current living Mayas reversing this forced custom? The short and long answer is yes they are. As Julia Montoya explained in her interview, after the new millennium (after Y2K) the Pan-mayanismo emerged as a phenomena in which the indigenous dress stop being an expression of “local identity” and it became symbol of “social identity”. I know this to be true because I have asked the indigenous people that I know from the Antigua market and other places where their traje is from and they have told me that they mix and match from different regions, according to their liking.

I will continue deciphering, to the best of my knowledge, memory and google, what we don’t love because we don’t know… Stay tune!

You’re more than welcome to contribute your comments, questions, doubts, or refutals.

© 2008 – 2016, Rudy Giron. All rights reserved.

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  • emromesco

    Excellent post Rudy!!! PuesI have a lot to learn from the Guatemalans (both Mayan and non Mayan) of the new millennium. People like you and your readers make me believe in hope for my motherland. (I still recommend La Patria del Criollo as one of the best books about the origin of Guatemala as an independent republic).

  • MO

    thanks for the recommendation. I will put in a request to my local library for La Patria del Criollo.
    Hey, Have you done any upgrades or added any service packs to the Manolo OS? That post of yours made me laugh so much.

  • JM

    Amazing outfits!

  • Rudy, I love learning what you are teaching. What a fantastic series! The clothing in this picture is quite a bit different from what I normally think of as traje indigena in Guate. Do you know why their faces are covered?

  • Excellent points, and what beautiful photos. We have a lot to learn from the worlds indigenous peoples – there is more then one way to walk on this earth.

  • erica

    those are very interesting outfits