Colorful local costumes in Antigua Guatemala
Antigua Guatemala is known for the culture that everything around the city reflects: the old buildings, the churches, the restaurant in Antigua Guatemala with small balconies with flowers, the central plaza with the municipal buildings, etc. But the most colorful and beautiful decoration of the city is the people wearing those amazing clothes with so many details, that you can spend many time admiring them and making up a story of every figure in the costume…. I am talking about the native Antigua Guatemala local costumes.
It is located in Alameda Santa Lucía, 1st street of Antigua Guatemala and it is open from Monday to Sunday, from 9am to 5pm, to all the excited tourists that are willing to know more about the amazing local costumes that we want to share with you.
Patricia Solé, Former Vice President of the Museums Association of Guatemala, tells us about the museum of Indian Costumes: “In the museum we can enjoy the history of different costumes in Guatemala through the years and in different regions. We can observe how the textile materials have evolved, from natural to synthetic fabrics”.
A long time ago, for the color of the fabrics, people used animal’s dye that was removed from the cochinilla and other insects, and now the dyes are made by chemicals. All this fabrics started to be made of synthetic fabrics and chemical tints because of the lack of cotton and insects that produce these natural materials. Solé says that because of this, huipiles are not opaque anymore, as the used to be. Unlike they have bright colors and have become fashionable outfits, with new pieces like the colorful and pretty aprons.
She invites us to go to this Antigua Guatemala museum, visiting the different saloons where a wide variety of fabrics and textiles are shown; from shirts, pants, scarves, table mats, and decorative pieces, to fabrics with original designs that are made from threads and a weaver.
María René de Aguilar, General Director of the Ixchel Museum of Indian Costume, comments that what what attracts tourist the most about the traditional Antigua Guatemala costumes are the colors, the art of embroidery, and the symbols that represent each figure depending the local’s hometown: “Each town is identified with its own suit. They are similar from one another, but with certain details or pieces that differ from each other”, De Aguilar says.
Stig Marstein, a tourist from Norway that lived in Antigua Guatemala for seven weeks, says that what he likes about this costumes is that they are very colorful and 100% handmade, and also that they come in so many variations: “It is interesting and fascinating that people can take up to six months to make a piece of the costume, because the clothes have many symbols, pictures or images that represent the owner’s home place”, he says.
The costumes are changing over time and most of them have evolved since the nineteenth century until now, but they are still as colorful and nice as before. De Aguilar agrees with our other sources that say that what attracts the visitor the most is the color, the small details, and the bliss of the Guatemalans for having this kind of costumes as part of our culture in Antigua Guatemala and in all Guatemala.
Glendy Lissette Gómez, a woman that has been working in the crafts market for three years, invites all the tourists that visit Antigua Guatemala, to go to the market, located in front of the Cathedral, in the other side of the central park: “We invite you to see our beautiful costumes, 100% handmade. You can admire all the embroidery, with so many details, that makes the suit very special and of top quality”.
After reading this article, you may be interested in buying one of the traditional costumes from Antigua Guatemala. The daily outfit consisting of a blouse, skirt (named corte),and a belt; and the ceremonial outfit consisting of a longer blouse, skirt (corte), a belt, and a headpiece, can cost around Q3,000 to Q6,000 (US$350-$750), but you can find some beautiful ones cheaper and simpler.
Solé explains that each costume tells a story. The weaver makes the costume story and knows exactly the meaning of each symbol in it: birds, flowers, leaves, human figures … each object sends a message. In the museum of Indian Costume in Antigua Guatemala, all the costumes have an interesting story andare part of a collection. Youcan rent them for exhibitions but they are not for sale.
But if you want to get some for you own, you can buy these magical costumes in the craft marketvisible from the Alameda of Santa Lucía, near the monument to Rafael Landívar where they sell the different pieces from the different regions; and also in shopping stores in Antigua Guatemala. What are you waiting for!