The Nebaj huipil is probably the most tribal of all the Guatemalan huipiles. The design looks like hieroglyphics with the stylized birds, animals and people. They truly are a gorgeous and unique top to wear, and I always get complimented when I wear mine out. There is a variety of styles within the Nebaj design depending on whether its day wear or ceremonial wear. The ones I choose for wearing are all woven with a soft cotton/rayon mix that makes them drape beautifully. There are a lot of Nebaj huipiles that are made from a thick, heavy cotton and don't fall in a flattering manner, but happen to make very tactile, sturdy pillows.
Below are examples of how Nebaj huipiles are traditionally worn. These are the most common type to be found in Guatemalas textile markets. The pattern is boldly tribal and the predominant colours are red and purple. The Nebaj huipiles I have in my shop (as shown above) tend to have less embroidery and are made from a softer cotton/rayon mix. I also feel the fabulous tribal design stands out strongly when there is more space around it to set it off. Probably a very western point of view.
The below image of 16 of my huipiles shows a mix of 2 distinct styles for Nebaj. The first two rows have much smaller designs that tell a story in their neat rows. Geometric symbols often separate the hieroglyphic patterns. The bottom 2 rows of huipiles show the designs in a much larger and/or more abstract fashion similar to what the girls above are wearing.
All of the above designs will make striking pillows. I can make a matching set of cushions from each huipil, using the front and back. The thickly embroidered neckline of Nebaj huipiles are a huge bonus feature, notice the variety of scallop designs on the above huipiles - I place this feature at the top of each pillow.
The Nebaj design is not for the faint hearted, only the eclectic bohemian 'more is more' stylist is going to incorporate this into their decor theme, however when I take it down a notch by choosing soft and pastel colours then this outrageously tribal design works beautifully in a more subdued boho setting.
Nebaj Tzutes and Tocoyals
Tzutes are used in Mayan culture for a number of different purposes, below are some examples of how it is worn traditionally. Nebaj artisans make gorgeous highly detailed tzute’s, and they are an incredible textile.
Nebaj women also use tocoyals (headress) more than most other tribes. Their tocoyals are magnificent and elaborate - giving the women a regal air.
Both tzutes and tocoyals make wonderful home decor for the well travelled bohemian. Tocoyals are a long woven cloth with embroidery and huge pompoms at each end, they work well draped over high furniture or large dining tables.
The tzute can be multi purpose for us western women just like it is for the Mayan women. Use as a table cloth or decorate the back of your sofa, and then when feeling outrageous, throw it over your shoulders and head out on the town looking fabulous.
That about covers the wonderful range of textiles from Nebaj and just some of the ways to decorate your home with them.
Until next time,