Mayan crafts are an example of the infinite creativity of the Yucatecan people. Discover what they are and the incredible places within the state where you can find them.

The artisans of the towns in Yucatan have a generous tradition which led them to the creation of works of art from ancient techniques.

The legacy of the Mayan culture runs through the blood of talented hands that are dedicated to the elaboration of Mayan crafts in techniques that come with pride and glory from their ancestors.

The incredible handicrafts of the Mayans are found in ceramic pieces, henequen objects, wood and stone; huipiles, skirts, ponchos, shawls and other textiles in a wide variety of bright colors.

Most of the handicrafts of the towns in Yucatan have perfected their Mayan heritage to make works of art that, although they are not like those found in museums, they are part of a tradition that evolves over time, the tourism demand and promotion of the state.

At present, several towns in Yucatan have found in the elaboration of Mayan crafts an alternative to make the culture of Yucatan known to tourism and preserve creative art.

Materials and techniques of handicrafts of the most common Mayans in the peninsula

mayan crafts
“The work of art is recognized for its own life. The work of art that has no life is not a work of art ”. - Mathias Goeritz

The hammock

The hammock is one of the best known Mayan crafts and protagonists of life in Yucatan.

Its name was introduced by the Spanish after their passage through the Antilles, after coming across these curious objects woven with bark filaments.

The hammock, whose name means “tree” in Haitian, has become an important craft and lifestyle object.

Hand in hand with the climate and creativity, the hammock became indispensable due to the intense heat in the area.

The value of the hammock in the daily life of the Yucatecans is not only fundamental for recreation, it also represents more than four centuries of generations swinging the dream between the woven threads.

Hammocks hang end to end, like bridges. The habit of sleeping in a hammock responds to the Spanish colonization in Yucatan; However, its use has been so daily that guides or books circulate to learn how to sleep in them or even for pleasure as a couple "maya sutra".

Henequen in Yucatan mayan crafts
Henequen plantation in Yucatan.

Each hammock is unique thanks to the warping method. Also, the approximate cost of a hammock depends directly on the size (individual, double, king) to the material for its realization (cotton, nylon, silk). They range from $500 to $2,000.

Read: Tourism Tianguis 2020 | The largest fair of the industry for the first time in Yucatan.

Embroidered textiles and weaving, a gift from the Mayan gods

Like the hammock and its materials to create it, in the state of Yucatan there are different techniques and natural resources to make a great diversity of Mayan crafts inspired by ancestral culture and miscegenation.

Henequen is another source of inspiration in Mayan crafts. With this plant they made a great variety of objects for daily use, such as ropes and bags. Today, artisans use it to make bags, shoes, tablecloths, baskets, and rugs.

In Yucatan, the elaboration of handicrafts comes from diverse resources that the peninsular soil produces. Henequen, liana and palm are the favorites of artisans who work with the weaving of brooms, baskets, backpacks or hats.

However, the weaving in Yucatan also includes the embroidered textile, of finer materials for ornaments or clothing.

Legend has it that the Mayan goddess of the moon "Ixchel" gave women the gift of weaving. Through backstrap looms it was essential that they carry sacred or mystical symbols for decoration. These elements were revealed to the weavers through dreams for the creation of their Mayan works of art.

A popular example of Mayan art and handicrafts in Yucatán are embroidered textiles are the "Huipiles" secular clothing of indigenous Mexican women par excellence.

Women's Day
Traditional dress made by hand of the woman in Yucatan.

Yucatecan huipiles They are famous due to their incredible embroidery that trace the mix between pre-Hispanic times and Spanish imposition.

On the other hand, the guayabera is the masculine antonym of the huipil. Its main material is cotton or linen and it is used hand in hand with the female huipil for special or traditional Yucatan events.

Among the embroidered textile techniques, there are xokbil-chuy (counted thread) or cross stitch, openwork or unraveling (xmanikté).

The cost of any garment with embroidered textile ranges from approximately $400 pesos up to $1,800 the cheapest.

Read: Haciendas in Yucatán to stay on a trip back in time.

Renewable resources of the peninsula for the realization of Mayan works of art

There are four main variants in the elaboration of handicrafts of the Mayans in the towns in Yucatan: cedar, mahogany, tamay and sapote. The varied vegetation allows life in Yucatan to be characterized by presenting a variety of trees and, therefore, wood to work with.

the cork
Tropical woods in southeastern Mexico.

Handcrafted pieces of carved, inlaid or turned wood.

In pre-Hispanic times, the ancient Mayans carved wood to create commonly used artifacts, musical instruments, work tools or furniture ornaments.

Pottery and clay is also typical of several Mayan towns and markets in Yucatán. To work the land, a lathe called K'abal is used, which consists of a small rectangular table on which the clay is placed, on a disc that is controlled with the feet to rotate and shape it.

The main places where Mayan handicrafts are produced are Ticul, Uayma, Maxcanú, Calkiní, Mama and Dzidzantún.

On the other hand, in Yucatan the infinite wisdom of its people has perfected the work with almost any material that nature provides. That is why I could not miss the goldsmith, to carve jewels and jewels that adorn the typical clothing of the mestizo.

As with hammocks, goldsmithing has a history of Spanish appropriation; However, the Mayan people knew how to create their own version to adorn the women and men who wear the pieces.

Other popular pieces are Mayan handicrafts made of stone, shells and snails; as well as saddlery, tortoiseshell and bull's horn.

10 towns in Yucatán to buy and learn about Mayan crafts

1.      Dzityá

In this town located 10 minutes from the capital, the specialty is carved wood and stone. Among the most elaborated products are tortilleros, vases, salseros, molcajetes, etc. The traditional Tunich Craft Fair, which is held annually, is the ideal place to learn about the production of the Dzityá people.

Although you can also find jewelry and handmade textiles. As well as mats to hang tablecloths, bedspreads and bags. Dzityá is a town in Yucatán known for transforming wood or stone into precious pieces. It is located 24 kilometers from Mérida.

2.      Tixkokob

It is the ideal place to buy a hand-woven hammock, but not only that since it also offers a wide variety of gastronomic options (black stuffing, venison dzic, pickled sauce, etc.) and tourist attractions such as the Aké archaeological zone.

Located just to the east of Mérida 30 kilometers away, Tixkokob is characterized by artisanal its many hammock shops to sleep or swing type, as well as different alternatives of materials for fabrics.

3.      Pisté

It is the best destination to acquire basketry objects made with ancient Mayan techniques. In the town of Pisté you can also find objects carved in wood and stone. 55.2 kilometers from the capital.

4.      Kimbilá

A few kilometers from Izamal, artisans work with wood, but mainly in Kimbilá, garments such as the traditional guayaberas are made.

Just 55.8 kilometers from Mérida, the Kimbilá police station found its ancestral voice in the elaboration of textile embroidery that have catapulted the jobs of the locals.

In Kimbilá you can find elaborate suits, guayaberas and huipiles of fresh and fine fabrics, in different embroidery techniques.

5.      Izamal

In Izamal the artisans mainly work with Henequen fiber materials for baskets, key chains, rugs and cocoyol for jewelry and ornamentation.

"Mayan roots" is the place where you can buy the products of different workshops in Izamal. The town is located 67 kilometers from the capital of Yucatan.

6.      Ticul

If you are looking for shoes and handbags, at Ticul you will find a wide variety of models and colors that reveal the personal vision of the artisans.

These products are hand-made and throughout the city you will see small family workshops. It is located 89 kilometers from Mérida.

7.      Valladolid

In this city you can get any of these valuable Mayan crafts mentioned above.

From typical clothing such as huipiles, guayaberas or huaraches to jewelry products, cocoyol, wood, to stone or saddlery made with the oldest techniques of the Mayan culture.

Valladolid is located 159.5 kilometers from Mérida. Do not forget to visit this magical town that still retains its colonial style.

8.      Uayma

Uayma is the perfect place to find beautiful pottery pieces. In Uaymá you will find an important Mayan legacy if you walk through its streets and among its wooden and palm houses.

Very close to Valladolid at 12.9 kilometers.

9.      Ebtún

If you are looking for Mayan handicrafts, this town in Yucatan, Ebtún, is dedicated to the elaboration of fabrics with fibers. A technique that is transmitted from generation to generation to this day. You can find containers, lamps, baskets among other objects. 165 kilometers.

10.     Chemax

In this town, the favorite Mayan crafts are carved wooden figures that can be animals, humans or vegetables. Chemax is 186 kilometers away.

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You will be able to find in archaeological sites such as Ek Balam or Chichén Itzá, the historic center of the city of Mérida and almost in any corner of the Yucatan peninsula, venues that sell Mayan art and handicrafts.

If you talk about Mayan handicrafts, there is no doubt that Yucatan leads the creative production of this tradition. There are 106 municipalities, with their police stations, which have found their identity.

The handicrafts of the Mayans and the handicrafts of the peoples in Yucatan, are the pride of thousands of women and men who were born to create.

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