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What is a Huipil?

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Published on Jul 19, 2012

Huipil is the most common traditional garment worn by indigenous women from central Mexico to Central America. It is a loose-fitting tunic made generally made from two or three rectangular pieces of fabric which are then joined together with stitching, ribbons or fabric strips, which an opening for the head and if the sides are sewn, opening for the arms. Traditional huipils, especially ceremonial ones, are usually made with fabric woven on a backstrap loom and are heavily decorated with designs woven into the fabric, embroidery, ribbons, lace and more. However, some huipils are also made from commercial fabric. Lengths of the huipil can vary from a short blouse-like garment or long enough to reach the floor. The decoration of traditional huipils generally indicates the ethnicity and community of the wearer as each have their own methods of creating the fabric and decorated. Some have elaborate designs with the designs having significance. Ceremonial huipils are the most elaborate and are reserved for weddings, burials, women of high rank and even to dress the statues of saints.

If you're buying a souvenir from Guatemala, any purse, scarf, notebook, or clothing made with huipil will cost more. An entire huipil blouse worn by indigenous women takes 6 months to make. Here, Cristina Perez shows us the difference between a huipil & typical weaving.

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