One of my first observations while I was taking pictures of the Guatemalans was that some of the women dressed very “traditional” while others seemed to dress more “modern”.
After doing a little research, I learned the following:
The population of Guatemala is made up of two major subgroups – Ladinos and indigenous Guatemalans. The Ladinos live primarily near the cities and the indigenous Guatemalans live in rural towns and villages. The indigenous people are descendants of the ancient Mayans. Ladinos wear “westernized” clothing while the indigenous generally wear “traditional” Indian clothing. Westernized clothing is worn as a symbol of their desire to be more modern, wealthy, and educated. Indian clothing is symbolic of Guatemalan heritage, ancestry, and tradition.
The traditional clothing worn by indigenous Guatemalan women are made with fabric handwoven from natural materials such as cotton or wool. The colors and design they choose have a variety of different meanings from the village that they live to their martial status. Indigenous woman wear their traditional clothing every day, and it is very special to them. The blouses are called “huipils” and the skirts are called “cortes”. It takes anywhere from one month and three months to complete by working several hours per day.
Although some of the men still dress traditionally, it is more common for them to dress in the westernized fashion. It’s worth mentioning that it is very rare that men or woman wear shorts in Guatemala. Out of respect for the the local tradition, our team members did not to wear shorts.