My neighbor has a very lovely collection of fiber arts from Central America. I’ve shared a few of her molas here before, and she recently asked me to work on another piece of hers, a huipil from Guatemala.
*You can click on any of photos below to bring up larger images and see more details of this piece.*
She has several of these garments, and although they are all beautiful and obviously made with care, my favorite one by far is this purple number. It is made of four sections of fabric, which have been hand sewn together along the shoulders and the center front and back. It has then been heavily embroidered by hand with a pattern of bright birds, purple rope, metallic thread and large pink flowers. The hole in the center is rather small, but it can just be squeezed over a head. The neckline is crocheted with a very thick cotton embroidery floss.
Huipil’s are usually worn by women in Central Mexico and Central America. They are very loose-fitting tunics that are rectangular in shape and often adorned with embroidery, ribbon, lace and and bits of fabric. They can be short, like this one, or they can go all the way to the floor. Many of them are made with hand woven cloth as well, and this huipil is an example of that, likely having been made by one woman from start to finish.
It’s interesting to me that some of the embroidery thread appears to have been twisted before being inserted back into the fabric. See the stems on the flower leaves? Did the maker do that to add a bit of texture, or is there another purpose for that technique?
So what’s your guess? How many hours do you think it took to embroider this?