The Panajachel pillow displays a wonderful handwoven play on color with subtle motifs of long tailed Quetzal bird. It was made from a “huipil”, the traditional garment worn by Indigenous women in Guatemala. The circular vintage floral embroidery is the collar often repurposed on newer huipils. The center features a traditional Mayan bird from Chajal.
19” x 19” (48.2 cm x 48.2 cm)
Front - cotton
Back - linen, in turquoise
Down feather pillow insert
Fabric origin: Guatemala
This pillow shows an incredible use of pattern imagery and color. The background thread color is red and depicts the traditional motif of birds with long tails woven in a variegated thread and surrounded by smaller motifs woven in other variegated shades of colors. The bright, solid blue motifs seem to pop up to the foreground. What a wonderful play of colors and all achieved using a supplemental weft technique woven on a traditional backstrap loom! In the center of the pillow is a vintage embroidered collar, or neck piece, that once was the opening in the blouse. I attached turquoise beads to the ends of the ties for embellishment. So special are these collars that they are reused on another huipil and never discarded. I very much like the old collar with the new fabric.
The center circle has a traditional bird motif common to the Chajal area in El Quiche, Guatemala. It was woven with red thread for background color while also using the supplemental weft technique. Extending from the collar are two decorative linear embroideries known as “randa”. This stitching is used to join two pieces of fabrics together in a decorative way.
I collected these pieces during my seven years in Guatemala from 1994 to 2001.