The Myths Behind the Oaxacan Huipil

The state of Oaxaca is characterized by its colors and textiles, including its traditional embroidered clothing with colorful motifs. Huipils are one of these garments that have crossed borders due to their beauty.

Despite the fact that most guests of boutique hotels in Oaxaca take these artisanal works home, the history and myths behind their creation remain hidden. The aim of this article is to unveil them, making their acquisition more meaningful.

What is the Oaxacan Huipil?

The huipil is a traditional garment found throughout southern Mexico. However, the Oaxacan huipil stands out the most. When we talk about the huipil, we refer to a traditional dress for women that dates back to the Mayan culture, where colors, fabrics, and decorations, besides being the protagonists, carry significant meanings.

The term "huipil" comes from the Nahuatl word "huipilli," meaning "dress with ornaments." The construction of this dress consists of a basic cut, allowing it to become a canvas folded in half, with openings for the arms and head. Typically, wool is the material used, although some artisans use silk.

The Language of Colors

Huipils are canvases arranged to decorate with floral motifs, figures of animals, and geometric shapes in various colors. The meaning behind them depends on the region; each region addresses it with different figures, as each carries a religious, social, and cultural seal. The color used for decoration has a profound meaning, as each one symbolizes a cardinal point and its attributes:

  • Red symbolizes the East, where the sun rises, and thus, where life begins and war commences.
  • Yellow represents the South, where there is fire, harvest, and work.
  • Black alludes to the West, where there is land and death.
  • White represents the North, where daylight, water, and peace come from.

The art of huipils evokes the ancestral myths of the Mayans. Therefore, when staying in the best boutique hotels in Oaxaca, don't forget to take a piece of tradition in the form of Oaxacan huipils.

Figures Adorning Huipils

As mentioned in the previous section, huipils incorporate various floral motifs, mythical animals, and geometric shapes, such as the rhombus called "Uo," which is placed on the chest and symbolizes "the place where the spirit resides." The animals that usually adorn these ancestral garments are two-headed birds or feathered serpents.

On What Occasions is the Huipil Worn?

The huipil exists in two versions for two types of events, meaning there is a huipil intended for daily use and another used during special events. The difference lies in the use of colors and the figures that adorn it. Also, they can be found in short or long sleeves.

Where Can You Find Oaxacan Huipils?

During your next visit to the best boutique hotels in Oaxaca, visit the craft market. There, you will find various Oaxacan crafts, including huipils. Another option is to visit the following municipalities:

San Juan Colorado:

This municipality has renowned boutiques of huipils formed by different communities of artisans. San Juan Colorado is located in the Costa Region, 352 km from the city of Oaxaca de Juárez. If you plan to visit this town during your stay in beautiful hotels in Oaxaca, take the opportunity to explore various villages in the state.

San Pablo Tijaltepec:

This is another locality where you can find completely handmade huipils. 82% of its population is indigenous, and being located at an altitude of 2,279 meters, it is a place with a lot of ancestral tradition. Unlike San Juan Colorado, San Pablo Tijaltepec is closer to the capital.

Where to Stay in Oaxaca de Juárez?

One of the best boutique hotels in Oaxaca is El Callejón. Our facilities are located in the heart of the Xochimilco neighborhood, a few meters from the historic center of Oaxaca. Also, our location is privileged for guests looking to acquire various types of textiles and huipils.

To book a room with us, just visit our website in the reservations section. On the same page, you can view some photos of our rooms to find the one that best suits your needs. If you need more information, write to us at reservaciones@hotelelcallejon.com.

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