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Updated: 14 April 2015
Head-dress (with pompoms, and tassels, and cords) made of cloth (silk), thread (silk).
- Found/Acquired: San Cristóbal Totonicapan
- (Americas,Central America,Guatemala,Totonicapan (region),San Cristóbal Totonicapan)
Comment refers to Am1980,27.344 to Am1980,27.363
This is a group of Totonicapán-type tapestry woven ribbons, mostly with silk weft on a cotton warp. Over 3m long and about 3.5cm wide, their length is given over to a variety of designs: rabbits, birds, figures, vases (or chalices), words, zig-zags, and vertical and horizontal lines, steps, and other available devices often used in weft-faced weaving.
Usually weft is laid in at right angles to the warp, but in tapestry there is the alternative of building up shapes in one colour and allowing another colour to curve around it. This adds a liveliness to the surface and also facilitates more realistic representations of birds and animals etc.
The ribbons have elaborate tassels. The warp ends are covered by a large silk pompom from which emerge four wire-wrapped loops of maguey. Through each of these another pair of loops are added, and to these eight loops, yet another eight, to which long plaited silk cords are attached. Fluffy binding is wrapped around the first set of eight loops, and at the junction of the second lot of loops and braids. There is an excellent diagram in O’Neale (1945, fig. 50).
These headbands have been woven throughout the twentieth century. Several from the Eisen collection, in bright coloured cotton, are illustrated in Schevill (1993, 185-8), and brightly coloured cotton ribbons (although fairly crude and without the decorative finish) are one of the most popular tourist souvenirs to-day. This collection, on the other hand, is woven in subtle shades of silk with an extraordinary variety of motifs. Particularly good multicoloured examples are 352-355 (see example below), and 344/5 are plainer examples in two colours.
Altman and West (1992, 153) suggest that cintas were worn in the 1960s for festive occasions, and O’Neale remarks that they are infrequently used. The length of time it takes to weave tapestry (especially in fine silk) and the elaborate tassels may well mean that they were expensive and kept for special occasions. This may also account for the good condition that they are in.
Africa, Oceania & the Americas
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Object reference number: ESA26743
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