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naviagtion Mayan People Sacred Duty History of Maya Dress The Huipil Renaissance of Weaving Textile Symbols Process of Weaving Women's Cooperatives

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Images of the Maya


Symbols in Maya Textiles

Hundreds of symbols have been identified in Mayan textiles. The weaver selects a combination of symbols, like those shown below, to portray a mythological drama. No two weavings are identical.

diamond pattern Diamonds represent the Universe and the path of the sun in it's daily movement: the east is represented by the small diamond at the top; the west is depicted by the small diamond at the bottom. The large diamond in the center represents the sun at noon, resting in the center of its daily journey.
scorpion pattern The tail of a scorpion.
earthlord pattern The Earthlord, "saint" of the underworld.
toad pattern The toad that sings at the mouth of the Earthlord's mountain cave.
vulture pattern The vulture represents the legend of Noah and the great flood that destroyed the previous world. In the myth, Noah sent a dove to seek dry land. When the dove, who had not eaten for forty days, came across land and saw all the corpses, it swooped down and began to eat them. At that moment it was transformed into a vulture.

The drama unfolds: while the toad sings at the mouth of the Earthlord's mountain cave, the Earthlord's daughters fluff cotton that will be transformed into raIn clouds by a bolt of lightning. The scorpion's spiny tail stings the lightning that attracts the rain and produces the flowering fields.

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