Guatemala is world famous for the artistic quality and variety of its crafts, with weaving at the top of the list. Each village has its unique style and you can recognize villagers from a particular location based solely on their traditional attire.
Among the most fascinating handwoven pieces are huipiles, embroidered blouses worn by highland Mayan women that feature colorful motifs that often include plants, animals, and lightning bolts in a dizzying array of colors. While you are certainly welcome to buy village attire, it’s never a good idea to wear it around while in Guatemala, as indigenous peoples will find this highly offensive (or downright hilarious, at best).
Many people buy huipiles to frame and hang as home decor, laying the blouse flat with the large head opening at its center or hanging it from a wooden rod. You can see examples where this has been tastefully done in numerous Antigua boutique hotels.
Jade jewelry mined from local quarries is a popular item in upscale shops in Antigua. “Primitivist” paintings are popular in the villages of San Pedro and Santiago, on the shores of Lake Atitlán.San PedroFor wool blankets, check out Momostenango, though you can also find them in markets throughout the country.San PedroThe best wood carvings are found in the village of El Remate, in the northern Petén department, though traditional wooden ceremonial masks are still an item found exclusively in the Western Highlands.
© Al Argueta from Moon Guatemala, 3rd Edition. Photos © Al Argueta www.alargueta.com