September 24, 2023

Embroidered with Meaning

Embroidered with Meaning

Mayamam Weavers’ artisanal heritage includes a rich tradition of embroidery that you can find on our Celebration table linens as well as our Hand Embroidered Christmas ornaments. The embroidery motifs express the women’s view of the world, that everything is interconnected, that they are different threads of the same fabric, and that natural and cosmic unity exists through diversity. Geometric motifs are used to represent the relation among the universe, the earth, and humanity. Motifs depicting plants and flowers reflect their relationship with nature.

As the Celebration table runners and placemats are being woven by hand on a backstrap loom, the embroidery is incorporated at the same time. This is a technique called "brocading". Some of the symbols incorporated into our Celebration table linens reflect items from daily life, but some reflect the complex relations underlying the Maya world view. We thought we would share what each symbol means on each of the Celebration colorways. 

Embroidery motifs can be found in a lot of Mayan textiles, especially on clothing such as huipiles, the traditional blouses that women wear. While they share many of the same popular motifs (like corn, flowers, etc.), their appearance and meaning may change from community to community. The embroidery is not only unique and beautiful, it' is an important way that the Mayan culture has been preserved through the ages.  


Other embroidered products from the cooperative include the brocaded pillowsbelts and the Backstrap Basics Bags.