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Market at Chichicastenango

11 Nov 2001

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Beans, Anyone?

CHICHICASTENANGO, GUATEMALA — Sunday we headed up from Panajachel into the highlands to the town of Chichicastenango for the big Sunday market. It's quite a sight to see. Indigenous peoples from miles around come to Chichi to sell their crafts to the tourists and to stock up on items they need for themselves like soap, yarn, and meat. The whole town gets transformed into a giant open air market with stalls lining the streets for blocks and blocks.

The outer edges of the market are more tourist oriented with huipiles (embroidered indian blouses), quilts, carved masks and woven bags. The whole scene can be very overwhelming with everyone shouting greetings and prices at you to come and look at their wares. There are also wandering bands of young children and women selling scarves, table clothes, necklaces, etc.

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Indian Women

What struck me as the most interesting was that each village has its own patterns of weaving and decoration on their traditional clothing. From headpiece to blouse (huipile) to skirt (corta), the pattern, colors, and design are very different. Some designs are very geometric while others focus on flowers. Yet again, some only use natural dyes in neutral tones, while most are a cacophony of blues, purples, pinks, yellows, and greens. There is nothing drab about Guatemalan clothing! Even the men dress in brightly colored woven pants, a wrap at the waist and a shirt, topped off with a type of cowboy hat.

Everyone learns to carry things on their heads at an early age. You see young girls maybe 5-6 already helping carry things to and from the market balanced on their heads. It was school vacation so there were always tons of kids running around, which even added to the number of street hawkers. It's a little sad to see the kids trained so early to make a living selling trinkets.

- Erin

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Last updated: 08 Jan 2002 07:35:05