Magical Creations. The skillful hands of the men and women artisans make Yucatecan handcrafts true works of art. Brilliant filigree jewelry in gold and silver is a good example, as are items carved from tortoiseshell, such as combs, ornamental hair slides, rings, earrings, bracelets and necklaces.
This is more difficult to find now given the necessary prohibitions imposed, and respected, to protect the species.
Coral, coconut husks and heneken spines are also used in jewelry making, as in the necklaces and earrings worn by the mestizos to grace the huipil, the embroidered dresses traditionally worn here.
The huipil is made from white cotton fabric, embroidered with cross-stitched flowers around the square neck and hem. It is worn with a special petticoat called a fustán, which has lace around the lower edge that shows beneath the huipil.
The ceremonial dress, called the terno, has three pieces: the huipil, this time made from a silky material with embroidery around the square neck-line and hem, is finished with a wide lace border.
The jubón is a short, fully-embroidered, square-necked blouse worn over the huipil. And, finally the fustán, embroidered with flowers which can be seen through the transparent lace of the huipil, also has a wide lace edge.
The embroidery is done in cross-stitch and the motifs are usually flowers or geometric forms. The dress is completed with white or embroidered shoes, filigree necklaces of gold and coral, a headdress of ribbons and flowers, and the shawl of Santa Maria.
Another widely used item of clothing, this time by the men, is the typical and elegant guayabera. Although made from a variety of fabrics, those of linen or cotton are the best quality. Towards the end of the XIX Century, the guayabera was worn exclusively by the upper class, which brought them directly from Cuba where they were made.
However, as demand grew, and importation became increasingly difficult when Fidel Castro came to power, a group of Yucatecan visionaries decided to make them here. In time, the use of the guayabera became more popular and a new phrase was born: “Yucatan is the gateway to the Maya world, and Mérida, the world capital of the guayabera”.
As the people of Merida live and dress in huipiles, ternos or guayaberas, so too, they sleep and dream in hammocks, hanging them in any room which has been fitted with the classic metal or wood hammock hooks; just like the ones used in the old haciendas. Large or small, hammocks are used by people of all ages, beliefs and social class.
Colorful hammocks made from silk, or cotton, which are cooler, or nylon, are used to lull and rock children to sleep from birth. They come in as many sizes as beds and can be individual or matrimonial.
In the town of Tixkokob, east of Merida, you can acquire the best hammocks in the region, either in the stores or directly from the houses of the craftsmen and women who hand-weave them.
Wood is another element used frequently in the creation of Yucatecan handicrafts. In the town of Dzitya, north of the City of Merida, innumerable articles are made from guayacan a very hard wood. Besides jewelry, hammocks, wooden items and typical dress, the best leather footwear in the entire peninsula is made in the small towns of Hunucma and Ticul.
The city of Bécal is located 91 km. northeast of the city of Campeche on highway 180. The population has a pleasant square in the centre of which stands the Monument to the hats, a source made up of three hats, which are the symbol of the craft of place: the famous Panama hats.
Almost all houses at Bécal have in their courtyards, artificial underground caves, some very old, where the work of weavers jipi is made, because only inside these excavations is maintained the moisture necessary for the development of this craft.
The jipi fiber is a dwarf palm that needs to be woven in maximum moisture conditions to avoid it gets broken, it is extremely thin and narrow, for this is that tissues are achieved very thin and tight almost impermeable.
The craft was launched in Becal, at the middle of the last century by the Garcia family, and it has become in a tradition for generations of skilled operatives specialized. The Panama hats are of excellent quality, for that reason they are exported to the United States, Europe and South Africa.
As you can see, throughout the state, skilled hands use a variety of materials, designs and colors, to bring the useful, the beautiful and the elegant into our lives.