08 Oct How The Mayas Dressed And Decorated Their Bodies
History of dress
in personal approaches ….
Mayan men, peasants and farmers used the “ex” (“loincloth” spoken in the Mayan language) tied in various ways: The pawn or the vanquished in the war, carried it as a simple narrow band, knotted back; it was their only garment, their buttocks were often seen and sometimes they wore a tattoo that indicated either its social place or its distinctive element by which it was known.
On the other hand, the people of the ranks wore wide bands, with their ends decorated, in paintings, shells and stones, with complicated fabrics, or with wide knotted fringes, or with adornments formed with feathers or beads, and figures carved in precious stones .
It should be added that the wealthy classes in these cities were either members of religious groups, priests or descendants of princes or warriors, the rest of society were simply workers.
Some stelae and figurines show the garments as a work of art in itself, well structured and of great plasticity. Almost all clothing, fabrics and yarns came from plants, vines and canes crushed to the extreme, where after being pulp dried and spun into very particular disks, with symbology that indicated if the thread would be for the wealthy class or if they were looms for the people or the markets.
Sometimes a wider cloth was used to form a sort of apron or very short skirt. All this contextualized with the variant climates, the Mesoamerican zones go from payas to tropical forests and of plateaus to mountainous zones and the variety of climates established forms and ways of dressing. In some areas animal skins were considered luxury articles, while in other areas only a doublet or transparent blanket covered their bodies.
Other times they were true skirts, strapped to the waist with a belt decorated with special fabrics or precious stones and, topped back and forth, with studs of carved stone, usually in the form of faces. Some skirts were very short, barely covering the belly; others covered half thigh and others reached the ankle.
The skirts were made of complicated fabrics, skins, nets that covered plain canvases, feathers and other ornaments sewn to the fabric. Sometimes several overlapping skirts of different lengths were used. Some figures show the use of shorts and other long, tight to the leg.
On the shoulders were used a kind of layers of different forms. The classic tilmas of the Mexicas, were called “patí” in Mayan language; and they were formed by a square or rectangular canvas, which the Maya usually tied in front by means of a knot or brooch of varied manufacture. Two ends were knotted close, and the canvas covered the shoulders and the back reaching almost to the ankles. The fabrics were made with various ligaments or embroidered later. The diagonal points were rarely tied back, so that the canvas covered the front in triangular form. Also used short layers, open ahead, made with feathers, decorated fabrics or skins.
It was also used what constituted the Mayan version of the “xicolli”, open or closed, in both cases short and glued to the body, like a vest. Sometimes it is appreciated in this garment the addition of sleeves. There is a figure that wears a real coat, open ahead, topped with a short coat and sleeves.
The men wore sandals, made up of a template fastened to the foot by straps that passed between the fingers and were tied around the ankle, and by a wide band of skin, cloth, or hard fiber covering the heel. These “cactuses” were adorned in many ways, some with elaborate representations of deities. Some Mayan figures show the use of knee pads, but it does not appear too often.
The Mayan women’s attire was composed of the entanglement of several looms held at the waist with a sash. Often this garment was the only clothing, plus a blanket to cover the head and that at night served as a blanket.
Diego de Landa Calderón tells us in his book: “Relation of the things of Yucatan” (Mexico), that: “The Indians of the coast and the provinces of Bacalar and Campeche are very honest in their dress, for beyond the cover which they brought from half to below, covered their breasts, tying them under the armpits with a folded blanket. ” Both forms of dress, described in century XVI, already were seen in figurillas of the classic time.
High-ranking women usually wore a long, loose huipil, loose or tied around the hip. A special feature of this garment was the side seam of the canvases, adorned with a kind of carved cord. Some huipiles were short, of thin fabric, transparent and adorned with drawings made with brocade technique.
Much of the population was dedicated to agricultural days, so most people dressed simply: women with the huipil or hipil or a skirt and mantle; and the men with a kind of calzón called patí. We repeated, however, the nobility used rich and complicated attire embroidered with feathers and gems, wore leather sandals and wore large feathers headdresses, plus necklaces, pectorals and heavy belts inlaid mother of pearl and engraved stones. Other common garments among the nobles were skirts, short or long coats, jackets (usually jaguar or cotton), ornaments of shells, snails and geometric designs. Apart from the headdress, some nobles and priests wore huge earrings, nose rings, jade bracelets and rings, quartz and gold, and pierced the chin under the lower lip to embed a kiss or jade of jade, quartz, crystal or other precious stone.
Among the accessories were hats, turbans, plumes, diadems and conical caps. Usually jade is very used until 900 a. C. (although it does not disappear) and later arrives the gold jewelry.
We can imagine from the paintings of Bonampak the richness and sumptuousness of these attire in ceremonies and battles, where warriors added to their costumes their arms, shields, and protective vestments, which were also profusely and beautifully adorned.