technique from the town of Quetzaltenango in Guatemala. In this piece, the weft
or cross-wise weaving threads are measured out and tie-dyed before being woven.
The Maya Indians make shawls and wrapped skirts of this fabric for the women to
wear or to sell to tourists. Note the small, stylized human figures that have been
“tied” into the black warp stripes to reserve the pattern in undyed white.
ED.1988.6.137 A small backstrap or body tension loom from Guatemala. This loom has
a piece of weaving in progress with stylized bird and diamond patterns on it. This
type of loom is still used today by Maya Indians in the highlands of Guatemala to
make their traditional clothing and ceremonial textiles. The stick wrapped with
string and holding some of the warp or foundation threads is known as a heddle
stick or harness and is used to raise and lower half the threads during weaving.
The long narrow, wedge-shaped stick is called at “batten” and is used to push the
weft or crosswise threads into place with each row.
ED.1991.12.57 a-c Three small mola-style patches made by Cuna Indians of Panama.
ED.1992.1.24a This is a handwoven hair tie of the type used in Totonicapan, Guatemala
by the native Indian women. Each little village has their own unique style of
weaving and wearing these. When women from several villages meet at a large
market town, they can tell which village each is from by the designs and ways of
ED.1993.1.4 Small mola (square made of reverse appliqué, embroidery and regular
appliqué on cotton fabric) made by the Cuna Indians who live on the San Blas
Islands off the Caribbean coast of Panama.The women traditionally wear blouses
using 2 of these molas for the lower front and back, using commercially printed
cotton or polyester fabric for the yoke and small, gathered cap sleeves. The
making of these molas has become almost an industry in the area with several co-
ops and other non-governmental organizations in the area working to market them
internationally. (See also #2005.39.1)
ED.1993.5.39 a-s Woven rush figures from Mexico: 2 birds, 2 horses, 3 airplanes, 6 fish,
2 men in serapes and hats, 4 generic humans.
ED.1993.5.41 Woven wheat straw figurine of a four-legged animal. The straw was
soaked in water to soften, bent into shape, and tied with string to form the figure.
ED.1993.5.51 Woven rush frame from Mexico made in a technique similar to that of
“gum wrapper chains” made here in the U.S. This is also the technique that was
often used to make straw “boater” style hats in the early 20th century in the U.S.
ED.1995.21.5 “Chamula” doll of unfired clay wrapped in roughly woven fabric from
Maya Indian woman in the highlands of Guatemala. Note that there are no raw
edges—it is woven to shape. The stylized animal designs are woven into the
design by a technique called brocading. From the size of this piece, it was
probably made for sale to a tourist, but the width (if not the length) would be right
for a man’s sash.
ED.2001.24.74 Cloth body doll, probably from Mexico, of a woman with long braids
and wearing mestizo (acculturated Indian) dress.
ED.2001.24.100 Male doll from Guatemala wearing traditional Maya Indian dress. The
body is made of coiled brown paper and the head of stuffed and embroidered
ED.2003.27.47 Copper plaque of alcalde or village headman with staff of office wearing
ED.2004.3.96 A small scoop carved from half a gourd with a pattern of a four-petal
flower made by scraping off the shiny surface of the gourd to reveal the dull
interior. Gourds are grown by people living in rural areas and are used for a wide
variety of utensils.
ED.2004.3.117 Wood plaque with brass model of pre-Columbian ceremonial knife from
the ancient Tairona culture of Colombia.
ED.2004.6.7 Woven straw doll’s hat from the border area of Panama and Colombia.
ED.2004.7.3 This is an embroidered panel from what was once a much larger, simple
woman’s blouse called a huipil. The pattern on this shows that it is from the town
of San Mateo Ixtatan, Guatemala. The Maya Indians wear these and each village
has its own design that is unique to that village—when visiting other towns,
everyone can see where the wearer comes from.
ED.2005.1.51 a-h Ceramic impressions of ancient Maya hieroglyphs. These modern
reproductions can be used for crayon rubbings in the classroom.
ED.2005.1.121 Dancing couple hand-molded of low fire clay and painted with tempera
Paint. Typical Mexican ceramic folk art.
ED.2005.1.135 Wooden “batea”. This is a typical household utensil made in all sizes for
everyday use for chores ranging from mixing bread dough to doing the laundry
and bathing babies. They are used throughout Mexico and Central America down
ED.2005.1.174 Model of tortora reed boat of the kind traditionally used on Lake Titicaca
on the border of Peru and Bolivia—the world’s highest navigable lake.
ED.2005.1.198 a,b Pair of Guatemalan women dolls in Maya Indian dress. The bodies
are made of rolled brown paper and the heads of stuffed cloth with embroidered
faces. Figure (a) has an acorn cap “basket” on her head- Indian women typically
carry burdens on their head, often wrapped in cloths such as the tzute (see below
ED.2005.1.200 a,b Hand woven cotton belts made and used by the Indians of Mexico
ED.2005.1.255 An egg cup of carved wood, the stained surface is cut away to make the
design of a beach scene with palm trees. This was typical of souvenirs from
Havana, Cuba sold to tourists in the pre-Castro era before the 1950s.
ED.2005.1.323 Handwoven cotton tzute (carrying cloth) from Guatemala. This was
made by Maya Indian woman in Guatemala using a traditional backstrap or body
tension loom. The warp or foundation yarns were tie-dyed before weaving to
produce the “fuzzy” looking stripes. This one is from the early 20th century.
ED.2005.1.335 Poster map of traditional dress styles and their locations in the state of
ED.2005.1.394 Woman’s short sleeved blouse from Mexico of white cotton manta cloth
with bright-colored yarn embroidery in counted thread work in geometric
ED.2005.3.12 a-h UNICEF cardstock figures of children in traditional dress:
jewelry is sold to tourists all over Latin America from Mexico to Peru and Chile.
ED.2005.25.4 A-F Set of 6 low-fire painted clay children’s dishes of a type also used for
making miniature scenes in boxes. From Mexico- fragile
ED.2005.25.21 Wood “egg cup” incised with a beach scene and the words “Havana”. A
typical mass-produced tourist item of a sort rarely encountered now that Cuba is
closed to American travelers by order of the U.S. state department.
ED.2005.39.1 Bag of a type sold to tourists by the Kuna (alternatively spelled Cuna)
Indians of Panama. On one side is a mola or reverse appliqué picture of multi-
colored curved stripes. Traditionally these molas are used to form the back or
front of a woman’s blouse, but new uses have been found for them to appeal to the tourist market. The Cuna live on the San Blas Islands in the Caribbean Sea, on
the east coast of Panama.
ED.2005.39.2 Crocheted cotton shoulder bag from Guatemalan highlands in a multi-
colored geometric striped pattern on a black background. Men often crochet these
bags to use for carrying items while hiking to their fields in the mountains.
ED.2005.39.8 A hand woven table runner made of cotton on a traditional back strap
loom by Maya Indian women in Guatemala. The pattern is a brocade of geometric
patterns with birds.
ED.2005.51.135 Stuffed cloth body doll with button eyes and mouth carrying basket on
head- a typical way to carry burdens in many parts of the world which leaves the
hands free for other activities. Though ink writing on her inner leg states she is
from Honduras, other donor info stated Brazil and this type of doll is typical of
some in the museum collection from Guatemala!
ED.2005.56.1 Tapestry woven pillow cover from Ecuador with a stylized bird design in
wool weft on a cotton warp. The native Indians in the highlands of Ecuador are
well known for their weavings and make many things to sell, including ponchos,
at the weekly markets in the mountain towns.
ED.2006.1.21 Poster “Map of the Folk Arts of Mexico” showing a painting of Mexico
with figures in traditional dress making various types of folk art by Miguel
Covarrubias. He has also written descriptive text on the back.
ED.2006.1.259 a,b Cardboard game boards for “Juego de la Oca” (The Goose Game)
with a checkerboard printed on back. Attached to these is an English translation of
the instructions for playing the game. This game is played in Mexico and the
boards were purchased in Olvera St. in Los Angeles. The game requires 2 dice
and a marker/playing piece for each player. Two or more players can play at a
(Serpents and Ladders—also known as Chutes and Ladders) with an additional
game, “Corre Que Te Alcanzo” (Tag) on back side. Attached to these is an
English translation of the instructions for playing the game. This game is played
in Mexico and the boards were purchased in Olvera St. in Los Angeles.
ED.2006.1.302 A statuette of a man in Classic Era (around 500-800 A.D.) Maya
costume and headdress. Though the headdress is large, it probably did not weigh a
lot as they were usually made of cane basketry covered with feathers and other
light weight materials. The Maya Indians of southern Mexico and Guatemala
had a highly organized and stratified civilization in Central America long before
Columbus made his first voyage. While this is a figurine made for the tourist trade
(thousands of people a year go to see the ruins of their large cities), many
museums in the Los Angeles area own artworks from the Classic Maya
civilization and have them on display.
ED.2006.1.324 Model of a backstrap or body tension loom with a partially completed
piece of cloth woven on it. Larger versions of this loom are still used today by
many tribal women, especially in southern Mexico and Guatemala, to weave
traditional blouses called huipiles and carrying cloths called tzutes.
ED.2006.1.366 a,b A gourd “bomba” for drinking mate, the national drink of Argentina
accompanied by the traditional perforated metal straw. Maté is an herbal drink
that is said to contain more caffeine than coffee. Though this is a simple one,
some bomb are quite elaborate with etched & carved designs and silver trim.
ED.2006.9.41 A laminated map of “Central America: Past and Present” from the
National Geographic Society.
ED.2006.9.43 A laminated map of “South America” from the National Geographic
ED.2007.1.68 a,b Two travel posters from Colombia. (A) from San Agustin shows a
large pre-historic stone sculpture and (B) from Bogota with a pre-historic gold
pectoral (breast pendant). Colombia is famous for its prehistoric gold work, many
pieces of which are in the historic “Museo de Oro” (Gold Museum) in Bogota.
ED.2007.1.69 Travel poster from Mexico City showing a ceramic figurine of a pre-
Columbian warrior (Aztec?) seated on a bright pink brocade fabric woven on a
back-strap loom by contemporary Indians in Mexico.
ED.2007.1.128 a-j Amazonian Indian fire starting kit, probably from Brazil. A hollow
bamboo or cane piece holds 8 small sticks with cotton fibers wrapped around one
end (these are the fibers that will help start the fire) and keeps them dry. A hollow
round gourd is attached to this by wire and may have once been plugged to hold
accessories such as flint and steel to make sparks.
ED.2007.1.152 Laminated National Geographic map of “Central America Past and
Present” with Central American political boundaries on the reverse side.
ED.2008.1.31 This is a small painting of birds and flowers made on handmade paper
from the bark of trees. This type of paper is called amate and is becoming rare as
the trees it is made from are becoming harder to find. The Otomi Indians also use
this type of paper, to make cut-out forms of supernatural beings that they place in
their vegetable gardens as a form of magic in hopes of making the crops grow
jokingly referred to as Mexican hand cuffs, though the Chinese have a similar
toy). To use it, insert a finger from each hand into one end of the tube. If you try
to PULL them out, which is the normal instinctive reaction, you will find that you
are stuck and cannot release them. However, if you PUSH your trapped fingers
towards each other (do the opposite of what you would expect would release you),
the diameter of the tube expands and you can easily remove your fingers.
ED.2009.19.1 An adult Maya Indian woman’s huipil (blouse) from the humid jungle
area of Cobán (capital of the state of Alta Verapaz) or the nearby town of San
Juan Chamelco. This modern piece from the 1990s still retains the hand
embroidered neck and arm opening trim and boxy shape of the older styles.
However, the base fabric is a commercially produced cotton and polyester blend
instead of a handwoven cotton gauze which is the more traditional fabric. It has
been cut in one piece and sewn at the sides so that the selvedge edge of the fabric
makes a “finished” hem that won’t run, yet saves the maker time in that she
does not have to sew a hem.
ED.2010.2.14 a,b A pair of dolls from Peru in the traditional clothes of the Inca Indians
from the mountain town of Cuzco, high in the Andes. The man carries a flute,
which is a popular musical instrument in the area. The native style of flute playing
has in recent years been popularized around the world by musicians such as Paul
Simon and his hit song “The Condor Passes”. The woman carries her baby on her
back, a typical way to leave the hands free for other activities while still keeping
an eye on the infant.
ED.2010.2.15 This handmade doll is typical of those from several different Caribbean
islands such as Jamaica, Bermuda, and others. She shows the old style of dress
worn by many women vendors in the outdoor marketplaces.
ED.2010.6.6 This is a mola made by the Cuna Indians who live on islands off the
Caribbean coast of Panama. They have made this type of sewing technique, called
reverse appliqué, world famous. In reverse appliqué, several layers of fabric are
tacked together and then cut to expose lower of different colors. A piece this size
would normally be either the front or the back chest panel of their traditional short
sleeved women’s blouses. However, tourists to the area have created such a
demand for this type of artwork that the Cuna women are starting to make unusual
sizes and shapes of reverse appliqué to meet demand. In past times, they often
took apart old blouses and literally sold the shirts off their backs. On many molas
in museum collections, it is possible to see remains of the actual stitching that
held the piece to the blouse.
ED.2011.1.8 This is an enlargement of a photo of the Great Plaza and Temple I at the
ancient Maya site of Tikal, located in the jungles of lowland Guatemala.
Archaeologists say that it was constructed over several hundred years, between