Woman's headcloth or carrying cloth (su't)

Maya -- K'iche' (Quiché)
c. 1935–1945
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General Description

Chichicastenango, in Guatemala’s highlands, is famous for its handwoven textiles. The square cloths that women use, either folded atop their heads as sunshades or as carrying cloths for babies or various items, show great freedom in the choice and placement of motifs. Figures are whimsically treated; feet, for example, whether human or animal, are depicted similarly. Motifs often show unexpected juxtapositions and abrupt yet compatible changes in scale. This example is decorated with female figures in triangular skirts, diamond-spotted deer, double-headed birds, humpbacked animals, and elegant bird-topped plants, all characteristic motifs for a woman’s headcloth. The individuality of this weaver’s approach is apparent in the rendering of the motifs, the asymmetry of the composition, and the attention given to negative space.

Excerpt from

Bonnie Pitman, ed., "Woman’s headcloth or carrying cloth (su’t ) (1983.335)," in Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2012), 53.

Fun Facts

This textile is comprised of a large, two-panel square of two widths, three-selvedged, seamed with randa. It is warp-faced plain weave with warp stripes and supplementary-weft patterning. The supplementary wefts are discontinuous, and inserted in a closed shed. The patterning is two-faced, and features a red ground with narrow, evenly spaced stripes in dark blue and white; supplementary-weft patterned figures include large deer with diamond spots, women with triangular skirts, men with short pants, two-headed birds (the traditional double-headed eagle), humpedback animals, three geometric motifs, and two corn plants, each topped by a bird.