Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala
Those living in the Santiago Atitlan area of Guatemala wear a style of clothing with roots in the Mayan culture. Sponsored child Josefa and her parents, Juan and Magdalena, shared with us the special meaning behind their traditional garments in a 2014 interview.
"The outfit says that I am from Santiago Atitlan," Josefa said. "There are several pieces to my outfit. The corte is the traditional skirt, the faja a traditional belt, the huipil is the traditional blouse and the reboso is the traditional shawl. The tocoyal is the traditional hair and head piece for Mayan girls." The tocoyal is unique to the women of Santiago Atitlan.
"The length of the tocoyal represents life,” Juan said. “An elder woman uses a tocoyal up to 75 feet long. The designs on the huipil represent nature; there are birds, flowers and patterns in the shape of volcanoes.
"Our ancestors called Santiago Atitlan “birds’ house” because people built their homes with straw and there are many birds in the mountains. And that is why we decorate our clothes with bird figures. Atitlan is a beautiful town. Our ancestors decided to decorate our clothing with the things that represent that beauty."