Friday Lens Affair #95

Mayan Cinta, Guatemala

This week I’m featuring super colourful photograph of Mayan woman in traditional Mayan cinta. Taken in Santiago, Guatemala by James Kelley.

James left the American dream to pursue an insatiable love for travel. You can read more about his adventures and travels abroad on his blog Escaping Abroad. Or just follow him on Facebook and Twitter to stay updated with his most current adventures!

Picture Story: Woman in Mayan cinta, Guatemala

I was visiting Santiago, a small town cramped between Lake Atitlán and the large cliffs surrounding it. Santiago is made up of 95% Mayans and this particular community speaks Tzutujil language.

The traditional Mayan clothing and fashion can be seen all over the country but each region has its own unique style.

The woman in the photograph operated a textile shop on the main street. The Mayan cinta she’s wearing on her head was once a part of women’s attire, but is now a dying tradition rarely seen. I saw it worn no where else during my trip to Guatemala.

She was delighted to demonstrate how to properly put on and wear the cinta. A process that takes several minutes and weaves into the hair.

Cintas are generally long, measuring 10 feet or more in some cases and between 1-4 inches wide. Like the majority of Mayan’s tradition clothing cintas are intricately woven from hand with colourful designs that often tell stories. In some regions the style indicates if a woman is married or single, or even if she has children.

You might be wondering how the cinta came to be of significance.. like many Mayan traditions it has a long and mythical history. The Mayan cinta is similar to ancient headdresses depicted in sculptures from the Mesoamerican classical period (c. 200 to 900 AD).

The cinta represents the serpent (snake) worn by the Mayan goddess Ix Chel. Ix Chel is the Mayan people’s earth and moon goddess, as well as the goddess of weaving and pregnant women.


23 thoughts on “Friday Lens Affair #95

  1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave)

    What a fascinating photo – I never knew about Cintas till reaading this and her expression looks full of mystery and kindness :)

  2. The hat is amazing but I can’t get over the embroidery on this woman’s shirt! Wow. Wearable art.
    Jolanta recently posted…Shark Eggs and Sea Dragons or #TravelSchooling at SeaWorldMy Profile

  3. I really like the composition of her face in contrast with the vivid colours of the weaving. A fine specimen indeed, James!
    Raphael Alexander Zoren recently posted…Yes, I am an Athenian. How about you?My Profile

    • Yes, James did great catching this picture!
      Marysia recently posted…100 Happy Days ChallengeMy Profile

    • Escaping Abroad

      Thanks Raphael! I don’t generally take a lot of ‘people pictures’ but in this case I couldn’t resist.

  4. Charles McCool

    Wow, that is a vivid portrait. I bet that woman has a lifetime of amazing stories to tell.
    Charles McCool recently posted…8 Great Fun Travel Blogs to FollowMy Profile

  5. Lovely photo with lots of colors & character. I love Mayan culture & traditions…can’t wait to visit Central & South America myself!
    Ron recently posted…Top 5 Reasons to Vacation in Costa RicaMy Profile

  6. Her smile is so inviting! I love finding out about the traditions of different places and always feel a bit disheartened when I read that these are dying out.
    Tam Gamble recently posted…Celebrating Treason and Gunpowder in LondonMy Profile

    • Yes it is quiet upsetting, hopefully there will be more people like this lovely lady keeping the tradition as long as possible.
      Marysia recently posted…100 Happy Days ChallengeMy Profile

  7. Amazing pic! I love the colours, and the woman’s sweet expression. Looking forward to visiting Central America next year!
    Margherita recently posted…Silence and Nature on the Tsiribihina RiverMy Profile

  8. Hannah

    LOVE all the colours in this photo! Great capture!
    Hannah recently posted…Experiencing the Horror: A Visit To Auschwitz Death Camp Part 1My Profile

  9. This is a really cool shot by James!! So colorful, and vividly identifies the key aspects needed in a portrait shot. I can imagine this was a really unique experience watching all of this unfold and I bet she was so happy that James showed an interest in her demonstrating this clear skill and passion for assembling the headdress.
    Chris Boothman recently posted…Seattle CityPASS – Experience 5 Amazing AttractionsMy Profile

    • I think it would be interesting to see a video how she put it on! Don’t you think Chris?
      Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #95My Profile

    • Escaping Abroad

      Thanks Chris! Although she was setup on the ‘tourist trail’ and I’m sure she’d demonstrated this 100’s of times she did seem genuinely happy to show us and have us there!

  10. Charli

    Wow, I love the vibrant colours and patterns of the Mayan dress. I’m sure we’d all live much happier lives if we wore such a rainbow of colours each day!
    Charli recently posted…Is Global Weirding Affecting Your Travels?My Profile

  11. Sammi Wanderlustin'

    What a stunning photo and what an unusual headdress. I have a friend from Guatemala and have never seen her with anything like it, I’m now wondering if she has one (she is very Guatemalan, I might have to ask her) ! Such an intriguing piece.
    Sammi Wanderlustin’ recently posted…Gorgeous Gran CanariaMy Profile

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