Handicrafts of Yucatan

Thousand-years Metamorphosis

Yucatan has been, since the appearance of its first human settlements, a place of cultural, economic and religious exchanges. Its geographical location makes it a destination and place of passage in the Caribbean Sea.

Surely due to these circumstances the elaboration of crafts has been very generous and varied. Some of them continue to be traditions that remain of the original peoples of the Yucatan, such as carving of stone and wood, as well as pottery and henequen jars.

Today you can also find objects and techniques introduced with the arrival of the Spaniards, such as jewelery or warping hammocks. Even so, the Yucatecan peoples have transformed these objects to introduce their particular and artistic vision of the world.

The best-known Yucatec textiles are the traditional embroidery in the "Huipiles", which quickly became popular internationally as the image of Yucatan. The tradition of Yucatecan embroidery dates back to pre-Hispanic times, and vestiges of garments with the Mayan embroidery "chuy cab", or satin stitch, have already been found in the archaeological ruins of Chichén Itzá.

We can not forget the "Terno", a traditional dress for Yucatecan women. It is embroidered by hand and it shines in important celebrations. The elaboration of a suit is a slow and meticulous work. In addition, it must be made exclusively with fabric and silk threads.

The "henequen" plant is another source of inspiration for Yucatecan artisans. The Mayans called "sosquil" the fiber extracted from the plant. With it they elaborated a great variety of objects of daily use, like strings, ropes, mecapales, bags or sabucanes. At present, artisans use it to make bags, shoes, tablecloths, baskets and rugs.

Another of Yucatan's best known crafts is the hammock. Introduced by the Spaniards after their passage through the Antilles, has been transformed through the hands of the artisans of this place. The difference is that the Yucatan hammock is more closed and without knots. Hand in hand with the weather and creativity of the Maya, it became an indispensable object due to the intense heat and humidity of the area.

The tradition of goldsmithing in Yucatan has Spanish roots. Even so, the Mayans also traded in small precious metal objects from other parts of Mesoamerica; In the absence of precious metal deposits in the region, goldsmithing and jewelry is related to traditions and not luxury.
The exultant vegetation allows Yucatan to have a great variety of trees and, therefore, wood to be worked. Cedar, mahogany, tamay and zapote are some of the most popular species. There are three main variants in the elaboration of this type of crafts: the carved wood, the encrusted wood and the turned wood.

Pottery and ceramics are also handicrafts that are preserved to this day. In Yucatan the lathe or "k'abal" is still in use for the elaboration of these pieces. This system consists of a small rectangular table on which the clay is placed, on a disc that is controlled with the feet, to turn it and to give it shape. The main places where they are produced are Ticul, Uayma, Maxcanú, Calkiní, Mama and Dzidzantún.

Finally, the crafts made through stone carving, traditional activity in the Mayan world. The objects were created with a domestic use in mind; mortars, metates and various farming tools. Although they were also manufactured for ornamental use and personal clothing.

Undoubtedly, Yucatán is an exuberant land in culture, history and nature. Its millenary culture has meant that today you can enjoy hundreds of objects that embody the wisdom of your people. Do not hesitate when you want to buy one!

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