Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Kowalski, Jeff Karl, 1951-

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Art


Indians of Mexico--Clothing--Chiapas; Weaving--Mexico--Chiapas; Maya art; Indian art--Mexico--Chiapas; Weaving--Patterns


The purpose of this study was to examine and analyze the visual elements of indigenous costume of the Tzotzil speaking Maya of present-day Chiapas, Mexico. Contemporary research methods influenced by fields such as sociology, anthropology, ethnology, and women's studies were employed in this research project in order to identify how visual aspects of Maya costume communicate and reflect the culture in which they were made. This study breaks away from the usual approach to the investigation of textiles which uses production processes and classification as topics of discussion. Through in-depth investigation using actual case studies and published findings of scholars, it was concluded that the visual elements of Maya costume from this region encompass the cosmology of the individual maker of the clothing, the community, and the Maya ethnic group. Comparisons were made between modern and ancient costume of the Maya in order to further support the findings of the research. This thesis includes a thorough discussion of the communicative aspects of cloth from both the etic and the emic points of view. The etic considers costume from the point of view of someone outside of the community where the costume was generated. A description of costumes' visual aspects as observed by a member of the community where it was produced is discussed in the emic viewpoint. As ritual life is an integral part of Maya life, costume and its place in ritual was analyzed. This provides the reader with an in-depth view of Maya cosmology and how it is exhibited in costume of the Chiapas Maya. This paper concludes with a discussion of the significance of culture change on indigenous Maya costume. Maya costume is not only influenced by the cultural history of the Maya people themselves, but has been influenced by western culture since the sixteenth century as well.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [127]-135)


xi, 135 pages




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