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Identity and Prestige in Mayan Textiles

Who are the Maya?: The ancient Maya are well known for their highly developed ancient written language, art, architecture, and mathematical and astronomical systems. Research the ancient and contemporary Maya. Where do the Maya live today? As part of your research, visit Maya Adventure here, a Web site developed by the Science Museum of Minnesota, which includes a section on the textile arts of the Chiapas Maya.  

Check out these books: Abuela's Weave, by Omar S. Castaneda; Angela Weaves a Dream, by Michéle Solá; Mayan Weaving: A Living Tradition by Ann Stalcup; You Can Weave!: Projects for Young Weavers, Kathleen Monaghan and Hermon Joyner.  

Shapes on the Move: Click here to visit Artist's Toolkit to learn more about shape, balance, movement, and rhythm. Draw three shapes that you find particularly interesting in the works of Mayan art in this set. Then draw a pattern made up of your favorite Mayan shapes. Is your pattern balanced? How will you create a sense of movement in your pattern?  

Every Garment Tells a Story: Huipiles (we-peel-ays) and other Mayan textiles go through various stages of use. Initially they are worn as a garment. Then they are passed on to younger family members. As they wear out, they are cut into smaller pieces, and eventually used as diapers! Write a history, real or imagined, of one of your garments.  

Textiles Around the World: Go to ArtsConnectEd to view an Art Collector's set of Mayan textiles in the collection of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Click here. How do these textiles relate to the objects and textiles highlighted in this feature? Then, use the art-finder tool in ArtsConnectEd to search for textiles from other parts of the world. Using the Art Collector tool, create a collection of your top 10 textiles from around the world.  

What Do your Clothes Say About You?: Imagine you are getting ready to pose for a photo that many people will see. What are you going to choose to wear? Why? What does your choice of clothing communicate about your identity? How does what you choose to wear affect how you feel?  

September 2012