Color My World

Guatemala is an endless tapestry of texture and color.  The women for the most part wear the most beautifully colored outfits, and I never get tired of admiring the work that has gone into these fabrics.

This group of ladies were about to participate in a religious celebration. A statue of the Virgin Mary is carried through the streets. These women were the advance guard, so to speak, carrying flowers, icons, and incense burners.  This type of clothing is for special occasions, clearly.

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The cheerful lady in the front in the picture below reminds me of my grandmother, with her pleasant smile. Obviously, the gals were having a good time. You can see the smoke from the incense burners in the left rear of the photo.

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The little kids here are so cute they’re killing me.   The mothers and fathers expend so much effort to have the little ones shine.  Some of these photos were snapped while the kids were going about their everyday business with mama; others were taken at a festival where the kids were going to be blessed in church and then have their portraits done.  Sometimes people don’t like to have their photos taken, but on a day like a festival everyone is having fun and happy that you notice their beautiful children.

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For the most part, only the females wear the traditional outfits.  The boys are usually in jeans and T shirts, although in some of the villages the men still wear stunning handmade shirts and pants (to do some very dirty work!)

Here are some close-ups of the stunning designs.  The two on the left are now tucked in my suitcase.  Give me credit for great restraint – I wanted one of everything!

 

Teenagers everywhere are the same – gotta have a cell phone!  Notice how the girls tuck them into their belts.

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Different villages specialize in different kinds of embroidery, and those in the know can recognize a woman’s place of origin by the pattern of her skirt or top.  One area creates the most beautiful birds!  Yes, okay, we bought a couple of these too…

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Craig asked me how to tell if the work was really done by hand, or rather made in a factory some where.  I showed him how to turn it over, and check the back side for knots, etc.

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Much of the stuff in the markets, although gorgeous and colorful, is made in China and sells for a small fraction of what the original handmade items go for.  And the handmade items are, by American standards, extremely inexpensive!

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In addition to those who embroider, there are skilled weavers who spend many hours a day in this posture, kneeling on the floor working on their backstrap looms.  The tapestry that you see on the loom below takes about three months to complete.  Ana has been working on this piece for about three weeks, eight hours a day.  She says she doesn’t mind the long hours, though, because she enjoys her work.  She is a stunningly talented craftswoman.

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The piece below is one of Ana’s creations, and shows the national bird of Guatemala, the quetzal, woven in the bright colors favored by local people.  And by certain tourists from Pennsylvania.  Yup, bought that one too.  We may not have a home, but when we do, it’s going to be breathtaking!

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