In part two of my multi-part series on Guatemalan textiles I will delve into the vast variety of textiles produced in the Chichicastenango region. This region is highly populated and continues to produce a large amount of extraordinary textiles. Chichi has the largest markets in Central and South America and here is where you’ll discover a plethora of new and vintage textiles. The markets are held every Thursday and Sunday - a must visit when in Guatemala.
Chichicastenango textiles are the most common design that is exported to the west. Patzun is perhaps the second most common. This is because the designs and the thick sturdiness of the embroidered fabric translate extremely well into bags and purses.
Chichi has three very distinct and different styles. Their Geometric designs are the most prolific, with the florals coming a close second, and their bird and animal designs last.
Chichicastenango Geometric Textiles
I am a huge fan of Chichicastenengo's geometric designs, the fabric is incredibly thick, making heirloom pillows so sturdy they'll last for decades. The majority are very bright, and while I love that about them, I'm always thrilled to find those in a muted palette where the subtlety really showcases the exquisite designs.
Chichi textiles are the perfect example of what wouldn’t work for a pillow, but works beautifully for a statement bag or purse. If you look closely you’ll see the geometric designs below are very similar to the pillows above, but the colour scheme is basically a rainbow which makes them hard to decorate with.
However as a statement boho bag they are sensational.
I feel that most Chichi huipiles aren't flattering to wear. The embroidery and cotton weave are very thick and stiff so the fabric doesn't fall in a flattering way, but rather bunches awkwardly. It’s that very thickness that makes this textile so perfect for bags, pillows, even shoes.
The only exception is when the huipil has been woven with a mix of rayon - shown in the top left image, then the huipil falls softly.
Chichicastenango Floral Textiles
I have always chosen geometric or tribal over floral in my personal taste, however I could not ignore the incredible beauty of many of Chichi’s floral textiles and just before I left I picked up a handful of florals and fell completely in love with them. Chichicastenango embroidery is like tapestry, making the textiles very rich and textured.
Florals like any pattern are a very personal choice. While I love all of these floral textiles below, I'm naturally drawn more to tribal and abstract designs. Add a comment below if you think I should add a floral collection to my shop. I've been considering it because I feel they are the one thing missing from my shop.
Chichicastenango Bird Textiles
Chichi does bird textiles like no one else in the world. They have a distinct style that is both playful and refined. Some are mixed with flowers while many are mixed with geometric patterns, and it's these that stand out as so distinct. I find both the colourful and the more subtle palettes seem equally popular, but I always lean towards simpler palettes in general so even my "colourful' collection is usually more subdued than what Guatemala is capable of creating.
The below huipiles are all being made into pillows, you will note most have a very subdued palette and even the colourful ones, the colours mix well and don't clash. This is because when it comes to styling a home, too many colours in one textile can look busy even messy. Whereas when it comes to a fashion bag for example its a lot of fun.
Chichicastenango Tzute Textiles
Perhaps the most playful of all Guatemala designs is the Chichicastenango Tzute. A ceremonial or all purpose cloth, usually 2 pieces sewn together to make a square, often with a gorgeous randa embroidered over the seam. From deer, to birds, to dancing horses and even double headed dragons embroidered over cheerful stripes, these are a sought after vintage textile indeed.
However the vast majority of Tzute’s are an incredibly bright red with primary colours embroidered all over. Only the antique tzute's from the time when natural dyes were in use (not common now) have faded beautifully to offer a gorgeous array of aged reds, and soft pinks. I would never buy the below tzute’s because the red is too bright and the randomness of the other colours is too great to work seamlessly into a decor setting.
This is just a brief overview of the incredible textiles produced in Chichicastenango. Leave a comment if you think I've missed any important designs or patterns, I can always add them in the future.
Bye for now