Museum Highlights

Piece of the Month - December 2018

      

Small Saint’s Huipil- San Juan Sacatepéquez o San Raymundo, Guatemala

This small saint’s huipil was made with cloth panels woven on a backstrap loom using cotton threads. Its sides were hand-embroidered, as well as the round neck, which features the buttonhole stitch with silk and cotton threads. The garment is decorated with warp stripes and floral and geometric designs which are distinctive of this particular place and time. This style of huipil was used locally to dress small images of saints which may explain why there is a hole on the left side of the neck as it is probable that the image was holding baby Jesus in its arms and the hole was made to show the baby’s head. This opening was hand-embroidered with a buttonhole stitch using silk and cotton threads.

 

Small Saint’s Huipil - San Juan Sacatepéquez, Guatemala

This small saint’s huipil was made with cloth panels woven on a backstrap loom using cotton threads. Its sides were hand-embroidered with a basting stitch, and the round neck using a buttonhole stitch. It features floral, bird and geometric designs, which are characteristic of the place and the name and year ‘Antonio Perez 1951’ are embroidered on it. This particular style of huipil was locally used to dress small images of saints which may explain why there is a hole on the left side of the neck as it is probable that the image held baby Jesus in its arms and the hole was used to show the baby’s head. This opening was hand-embroidered with a buttonhole stitch.

 

Small Saint’s Huipil - Nahualá, Sololá

This small saint’s huipil was made with cloth panels that were woven on a backstrap loom using cotton and rayon threads. The round neck with a vertical opening in the front has a hand-embroidered hem made using a zig-zag stitch. The sides were sewn together using a backstitch. The garment features geometric and zoomorphic designs made with supplementary weft brocades. The bleeding dye, especially in red, is one of the main characteristics of this community’s garments. This particular style of huipil was locally used to dress small images of saints.

 

Saint’s Shirt - San Antonio Aguas Calientes, Sacatepéquez

This shirt was made especially for the image of a saint with cloth panels that were woven on a backstrap loom using cotton threads. This garment, which stands out for its simplicity, has a colorful vertical neck that was hand-embroidered with a buttonhole stitch. Twenty two hand-embroidered birds can be seen on the front in five subtle tones. They are distributed in three rows on each side. They are positioned so that they are all looking to the same side.

 

Saint’s Shirt - Santo Domingo Xenacoj, Sacatepéquez

This saint’s shirt was made with cloth panels that were woven on a backstrap loom with cotton threads in the colors that were traditionally used at the time. It is decorated with geometric and bird designs that were made with the supplementary weft brocading technique. Its vertical neck has a ribbon applied around it and the applications on the sleeves were hand-sewn using a backstitch. This particular style of huipil was locally used to dress small images of saints which may explain why two holes were made under the neck as they were probably used to show that the image was holding baby Jesus. These openings were hand-embroidered using a buttonhole stitch.

 

2018 Piece of the Month Historic Archive

2017 Piece of the Month Historic Archive

2016 Piece of the Month Historic Archive

2015 Piece of the Month Historic Archive

The Museum

The museum has done extensive work in the conservation and storage of its collection, but much remains to be done. “A collection is useless if the pieces are not assessed and recorded”, says Curator Emeritus Rosario Miralbes de Polanco, an expert on textiles, fibers, and dyes. “The textiles cannot be exhibited if there is no data on them or they cannot be easily found.”

Museo IxchelThe Museo Ixchel of Guatemala has its roots as the Textile Committee of the Asociacion Tikal, and was founded in 1973. In 1977, this committee spun off to become a private, non-profit museum named after Ixchel, the pre-Hispanic goddess of fertility and weaving. Its first location was a modified private house in a residential area, but the rapidly expanding collection and ambitious conservation goals soon led to the need for a new building. Its current purpose-built modern premises were opened to the public in 1993.

Museum exhibits and virtual tour

The current exhibit is Cofradias, pictures of which can be found below on the virtual tour. For an e-exhibit of the past exhibit Bordados/embroidery display please click here.

The Virtual Tour of the museum was put together by the curator and a local university student. To view this video (now available in English), click here..

 

Gallery photo-views are also accessible via a Google Arts and Culture presentation. To view them, click here.

Textile collection

The world-renowned collection numbers over 6,000 woven pieces of Maya clothing from more than 115 weaving villages. It has received spectacular donations from private citizens, purchases pieces offered by weavers, and actively embarks on field research trips which both document and purchase materials.


Ceremonial Huipil. San Juan Sacatepeques. USAID GuatemalaSystematic documentation and careful storage enable this heritage to be both studied and enjoyed. Pieces from the collection are on view via permanent and temporary exhibits and are accessible to scholars and researchers. And its Pro-Teje textile committee (created in 1994) is dedicated to preserving the high-quality traditions by subsidizing and supporting groups of weavers.

The collection is so renowned that the Museum has become a Google Arts and Culture partner. To admire a selection of the collection, please visit their stunning presentation by clicking here.

Conservation

The museum has done extensive work in the conservation and storage of its collection, but much remains to be done. “A collection is useless if the pieces are not assessed and recorded”, says Curator Emeritus Rosario Miralbes de Polanco, an expert on textiles, fibers, and dyes. “The textiles cannot be exhibited if there is no data on them or they cannot be easily found.”

The conservation process is complex, spanning identification, technical assessment for status requiring restoration, photography, and storage in acid-free paper, muslin and/or boxes. Storage is done in a controlled environment which prevents damage caused by light, relative humidity, contamination and pests.  Dedicated professionals such as newly-appointed Curator Violeta Gutierrez are on staff.  For a recent interview, click here.

Conservation efforts have received grants from institutions such as the Getty Museum and the Carene Foundation of Switzerland.  For more information on the recent Su't project, funded by the foundation, see the June 2011 issue of our bulletin (in the bulletin archives section of this website).