Colors of Guatemala

Quetzal tail feathers photographed in Maya history museum, village of Chajul, Ixil Triangle, Department of Quiché

The Resplendent Quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno) is emblematic of Guatemala – it is the name of Guatemala’s currency and its national bird. And yes, it is brightly colored. The mostly green body has iridescence in tones of green, gold, blue and violet, and it bears a prominent red mark on its breast. The tail feathers are an iridescent green and are particularly long and showy on the male during breeding season.

[Image at right from internet, photographer unknown]

Most likely you won’t see one though there is some chance, during the misty morning feeding time, in the cloud forest, if you get up early and are led to just the right spot. You just might. The species is found only from southern Mexico through to western Panama, though related species occur further east in Panama and in South America.

Where you will be sure to see it in Guatemala is on the flag, in the carvings decorating the temples of the Maya, painted into murals depicting indigenous legends and woven into textiles. You may also recognize it in the many ways that Guatemala embraces color.

The simplest homes are livened up with color. These modest apartments are across from the main market in Uspantán.

The cemeteries are full of color.

The textiles of Guatemala are astonishing. Every area, every village, has its own unique textile signature. As long as the traditional dress (traje) endures, the character of Guatemalan villages will remain unique and profoundly moving.

The newest style in Chajul is this sort of random yarn-tied huipil.

These representations of the quetzal are in the traditional style for the Ixil village of Chajul.

This table runner made in San Antonio Aguas Calientes includes many significant images – some figures represent ancestors, some agricultural practices, and always the much revered quetzales.

Album of Guatemalan textiles
coming soon.

This entry was posted in *mostly photos*, Guatemala, Latin America. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Colors of Guatemala

  1. billyO says:

    Holy cow. Thanks for the photos, and an amazing blog – a small glimpse into your world/life journey.

    My grandparents were missionaries for 40 or so years in Guatemala — in HueHueTenango, Chichicastenango mainly. Seeing the above textiles is not a surprise to me, but rather nostalgic of memories of their (retirement) home and my own parents home. My sister and I are trying to figure out how to get down there and see/hear/smell/touch/taste what we heard of so many times growing up.

    Super jealous! Safe journeys, Christine!

  2. Cathy says:

    What a colorful place. Full of vibrant colors and I’m sure the people are just as vibrant :)

    Thank you for sharing! Looking forward to reading more!

    Cathy Trails

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