BELIZE TRADITIONAL CLOTHING AND EMBROIDERY
Many cultures are found in Belize, but the Mayans were the original natives. The designs and colors of their clothing reflect village traditions. Some wear a tzute, which is a rectangular cloth worn over the shoulder, as a cape or as a sun hat. Women often wear jewelry, but men do not. Men often carry bags called morrals.
Mayan natives make a square piece of cloth into a blouse, which is called a huipil. Men wear a less decorated huipil with a blue or red sash, but women often embroider them elaborately. The embroidery designs represent the cosmos and gods. The Huipil is a common traditional attire worn by women across Central America. Many women in Maya-Mestizo communities and elsewhere who identify with the Maya-Mestizo culture wear the vibrant and elaborately decorated attire for special events, celebrations and festivities. Or they may also wear a short blouse-like version of the Huipil for everyday use. The use of the attire and embroidery itself are symbols of identity. The embroidery on mayan-mestizo huipils generally portrays brightly coloured flowers that are embroidered through techniques such as intricate cross-stitch.
CREOLE WOOD CARVING
One of the most popular types of wood used is mahogany, but other woods are used as available as well. Many vendors will set up tables in market places and other public areas to sell their wares. Some wood carvings can be pretty rudimentary, but others can be quite elaborate.
MAYA BASKET WEAVING
The Jippi Jappa palm grows wild in the rainforest and often in abandoned fields. The shoots and flowers are edible and the young palms can be used as a material to be woven into beautiful baskets. The young palm frond is first stripped of its central core, The Mayan women rip the fresh leaves of the jipijapa plant. Those leaves need to be boiled for about half an hour. Like that the fibres can get the typical beige color and become softer, so it is easier to work with them, Afterwards she put them to dry in the sun for one to two days. If she doesn’t boil the leaves, and lets them simply dry, their light green colour changes to a dark brown.
The Mayan women hold a bundle of fibers (maybe 6 to 8) tightly together and twist another around the outside of the bundle. Once sthe artisan produces a few inches of rope-like covered bundle, she begins to start making a tight coil. She then uses one line and a needle to sew a loop anchoring the outer coil to the inside every quarter of an inch. She keeps repeating the process and adding to the coil until she gets the desired shape and size for the bottom of her basket. Then she brings up the edges by tightly sewing the next coils closer together and vertical. She uses both, the light and the unboiled dark fibres, to make a design by using the different colours. She makes a beautiful basket which is so tightly woven you would think it could hold water. The lid, created separately, matches perfectly the basket, and is snug enough that it wouldn’t fall off when turned upside-down. The weaving process takes about two days for a middle size basket, up to a week for a big one.