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Tzute

  • Place of origin:

    Guatemala (made)

  • Date:

    1850-1890 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Warp-faced plain weave cotton, brocaded with cotton; red cotton is dyed with Alizarin

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Alfred Percival Maudslay

  • Museum number:

    T.263-1928

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The two panels used to make this man's headcloth were woven as one long piece with the pattern reversed in the upper half; it was cut across the middle and the panels were then sewn side-by-side with a decorative seam, known as a randa, worked in purple and cream silk. Both men and women placed folded pieces of fabric on their heads as protection against the sun.
A natural, undyed brown cotton has been used for both the warp and weft; this is known as Cuyuscate or Ixcaco (Gossypium Mexicanum). It produces shorter fibres than the more common white cotton and consequently is more difficult to spin, more expensive and more highly prized by weavers.
There are minute traces of orange dye among the green threads. This was probably the result of accidental contamination and suggests that the dyeing was done at home rather than in a professional workshop.

Physical description

1931 Description: women's headcover; coloured silk weving with a linen ground. The pattern consists of broad bands of conventionalzed birds in red and green; there are red tassels at the four corners.

1975 Description: the randa and the hem of this tzute are worked in mauve and gold floss silk, the same as the tassels in T.31-1931. The ground is a warp-faced plainweave white cotton. The pattern is worked in double-faced brocading (also known as laid-in, loom embroidery etc). Several pattern yarns are used together in each pick to give the design a thick quality. The tzute is composed of 2 pieces woven on a backstrap loom and therefore with 4 selvedges. There is an embroidered seam (randa) down the centre.

Technical Details (1995):
Warp-faced plainweave.
Warp: 58 threads per inch; brown cotton; Z-spun, unplied; small lengths of red cotton included, some have been knotted in and some threads are additional ones but they have been carefully and deliberately secured.
Weft: 32 threads per inch; brown cotton; Z-spun, unplied; there are narrow bands of red cotton weft in and around the areas of pattern.
Lower Edge: the first 5 sheds of the left hand panel have 4 parallel threads each; the first 3 sheds of the right hand panel have 6 parallel threads each.
Upper Edge: this has been cut, rolled under andtowards the front; secured with purple and cream silk forming a zigzag pattern.
These panels were woven in one piece with one design upside-down; they were then cut apart and sewn side-by-side.
Brocading: number of different types/colours of thread = 2; the brocaded threads sometimes begin with a knot on the back of the fabric; they are loosely plied threads which often fall into separate threads making them appear unplied. Red cotton (Z6S); green cotton (Z6S). The green has faded to grey towards the top of the right hand panel and in the upper two bands of the left hand panel. There are traces of orange dye, probably accidental contamination, among the green threads on the back of the fabric.
Randa: the two panels are joined edge-to-edge with blocks of purple and cream (or yellow - it is not possible to determine the original colour) giving the effect of buttonhole stitch.
Tassels: one tassel is attached to each of the four corners; each is red cotton about 7" long.
Design: the figures in both panels face the randa.

Red cotton dyed with Alizarin, patented in Britain and Germany in 1871.

Place of Origin

Guatemala (made)

Date

1850-1890 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Warp-faced plain weave cotton, brocaded with cotton; red cotton is dyed with Alizarin

Dimensions

Length: 63 cm, Width: 89 cm

Labels and date

A Man's Headcloth, made from two panels. A natural, undyed brown cotton has been used for both the warp and weft; this is Gossypium Mexicanum. It produces shorter fibres than the more common white cotton and consequently is more difficult to spin, more expensive and more highly prized by weavers. Small lengths of red cotton have been deliberately included in the warp: some has been knotted-in to replace the brown cotton and some is supplementary but has been carefully secured in place. Narrow bands of red cotton weft have been used around the area of pattern.
Two different threads have been used to form the brocaded pattern: red and green cotton. The green has faded to grey in the top of the right hand panel and in the upper two bands of the left hand panel. These areas have been woven oneafter the other and then cut apart; the fading has been caused by a faulty dye batch of yarn. There are traces of orange dye among the green threads visible on the back of the fabric. This was probably the result of accidental contamination and suggests that the dyeing was done at home rather than in a professional workshop.
The two panels used to make this cloth were woven as one long piece with the pattern reversed in the upper half. When completed, it was cut across the middle and the panels were then sewn side-by-side with a decorative seam known as a randa, worked in purple and cream silk.

This textile was given to the Museum by Mr Maudslay before his death. []

Production Note

When given to the Museum in 1928 it was thought to be a woman's headcover made of linen. It the mid-1970s this attribution was changed and the piece was described as a man's tzute from Chichicastenango; the fabric was correctly noted as cotton. A similar piece is illustrated as Chichicastenango in fig. 108a in L M O'Neale 'Textiles of Highland Guatemala' (Carnegie Institute of Washington, 1945).

Materials

Cotton

Techniques

Weaving; Brocading; Sewing

Subjects depicted

Animals; Birds

Categories

Textiles; Accessories

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

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