HEIRLOOM THREADS
OF THE
MAYA CIVILIZATION

Maya Puntos de La Vida
By Iride Aparicio

SILICON VALLEY, CA-- In early March of 2020, Artist and Teacher Marie-Astrid Do-Rodriguez accompanied by Joeceline and Isabel, (no last names given) two fifteen year old students from Los Cenzontles Art Academy in San Pablo, California, visited several small towns in the state of Yucatan, located in southern México, to observe the weaving and embroidery's procedures used to make and decorated their clothes, still used by the living descendents of the Maya, considered the most sophisticated Mesoamerican Civilization.

According to The Canadian Museum of History, the Mayan race originated in the peninsula de Yucatan, which at the time was part of Guatemala, (Because Yucatan, with Campeche,  were annexed to Mexico many years later, in l823)  1200 years before Christ was born.
Their historic documents describe the Evolution of the Maya Civilization as follows:

Pre classic Maya:   1800-1000 B.C (Before Christ)
Middle Pre classic Maya: 900 to 300 B.C. (Before Christ)
Late Pre classic Maya: 300 B.C. to A.D. 250
Early Classic Maya: A.D. 250-600
Late Classic Maya: A.D. 600-900
Post Classic Maya: A.D. 900-1500
Colonial Period Maya: A.D. 1500-1800

By 1821, after Mexico and the Central American countries became independent from Spain, the Mayans scatter to different places but most remained in Guatemala, Honduras, and the Southern states of Mexico.

As a culture, the Maya developed the most sophisticated writing system in pre-Columbian Americas. The first recorded Zero appeared in Mesopotamia about 3 BC, but the Mayans discovered it independently, in Circa 4 A.D. and began utilizing it in their astronomical computations of the movements of the moon and in their architecture. And when centuries later the remains of their cities remain in the jungles of Southern Yucatan, Petén, and Copàn in

Temple

Mayan Ruins in Copan Honduras, Central America

Honduras where the magnitude of the Mayan ruins was so impressive that they were declared by UNESCO, an Archeological World Heritage Site in l980.  The magnitude of the Mayan art, however, is visible inside some of their temples, where painted on their walls, in fainted colors, one still can can see rows of elaborate  pictures depicting rituals, with the people participating in them, their priests (chamanes) drawn in profile, allowing us not only to appreciate the elegance of their attire, but also the long quetzals' feathers attached to their elaborate "cabezadas" (hats).

Mayan ritual  painted on a Temple's  wall
Mayan ritual  painted on a Temple's  wall

And because the Maya Quiché, created, according to them by the gods Ri Tzacol, the constructor, Bitol, the maker, Tepeu the powerful and Qucumatz the feathered serpent, according to the Popol-Vu, and destroyed several times because the wood men were not perfect. So, it is until Qucumatz, approaches Xmucane, one of the oldest deities in Mayan theology, and asks her help in creating human again, that she personally grinds the Maize, (the corn) and makes them.

And believing that they had been created from the earth, the Mayans remained close to the earth and depended on the earth for their food. Thealso grew cotton, and learned how to convert it into threads, and how to weave the threads to make their clothes. They also learned how to dye the cotton to give it different colors, by using grounded seeds. They still do it.

Mayan sewing

And To observe the process, was the reason why teacher Do Rodriguez, brought two of her students to different towns in Yucatan which included: Xocén, Cenote, Tixhualactún, Felipe Carrillo, to name a few, and see how the cotton is weaved, in weavers hanging from the wall, wrapped around the women's waist.  How the threads are dyed in different colors, how dresses are created, and how each piece of cloth is decorated.

Each creation is individual, it shows the flowers selected by their weaver, their colors, their arrangement. Yet the product, is a communal work of of the women in the village, working together, in very small rooms each one creating her individual creation. Because each woman designs it, she selects the type of flowers that she wants, the colors of the flowers, and their arrangement. This is no mass production. each garment is an individual piece of art.

Mayan Dress Designs

But Perhaps, more than a lesson, in sewing and Mayan embroidering, what Artist and Teacher Do-Rodriguez, actually taught her the students, pictured below with some natives, was a lesson in life: In the importance, as teachers, of freeing the individual talent of the students so that they could create. On what each one of us can accomplish, when we work together, and the beauty that we all are capable to create, when we love our work, and somebody encourages us.

For sharing with our readers their Heirloom threads of the Maya Civilization, their photographs, (which do not include the temple in Honduras and wall;s photograph) and their video of their journey, Cultural World Bilingual would like to thank The Cenzontles Art Academy and Maestro Eugene Rodriguez, its founder.