Huipil

1850-1910 (made)
Huipil thumbnail 1
Huipil thumbnail 2
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images
Not currently on display at the V&A

Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

A huipil is a blouse-like garment that forms part of the traditional dress worn by Guatemalan women. Huipils are hand-woven by the women themselves, usually on a portable 'back-strap' or 'belt' loom, which is secured around the waist of the weaver, enabling her to continue weaving when opportunity and time permit. Huipils are very simply constructed; they consist of a woven cotton or wool rectangle with an opening left at the top for the head, much like a tunic. The weave is either plain or brocaded, which can then be embroidered or appliquéd if further decoration is desired. Patterns are often particular to the weaver's village or region and are therefore a useful clue to the huipil's origins.

This huipil was given to the museum by Alfred P. Maudslay (1850-1931), a British diplomat, archaeologist and explorer who assembled a significant collection of South American textiles while travelling the continent between 1880 and 1907.
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download Sew your own: Mexican-style huipil A 'huipil' is a sleeveless tunic, traditionally worn by women in many regions of Mexico and Guatemala. This Frida Huipil sewing pattern is inspired by the huipiles worn by the artist Frida Kahlo, as well as some examples in our textile collection.
object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Cotton brocaded and embroidered with cotton
Physical Description
1928 Description: Woman's Dress: coloured silk weaving with a linen ground. Guatemalan; 19th century. The dress is cut square and is open at the sides. A square opening at the neck. The pattern in red consists of bands of geometrical designs at neck, waist and square panels on the shoulders. On back and front are six large two-headed eagles with wings displayed.

1975 Description: Huipil. The ground is cotton, the pattern threads are cotton and the garment is not cut, as all three panels from which it is made have four selvedges each, which is characteristic of backstrap loom weaving. Pattern yarns are woven in double-faced brocading technique. The ground cloth is the same as the ground cloth of T.38-1931 [one pick of gauze weave, 5 picks of plain weave, repeated throughout]. The two square shoulder decorations and the neck decoration are embroidered in cross stitch. The rest of the design is brocaded. This huipil is most probably from Mexico.

For comments on the double headed eagle motifs see the description of T.39-1931.

On the front of this huipil there are two motifs in the shape of an 'N'. This is most probably the feathered serpent motif, an ancient design in both Mexico and Guatemala.
Dimensions
  • Length: 34.5in
  • Width: 36in
Credit line
Given by Alfred Percival Maudslay
Object history
This huipil was a gift from A.P. Maudslay, who would later bequeath his collection of South American textiles to the museum.
Production
When given to the Museum it was thought to be a woman's dress of silk and linen from Guatemala. In the mid-1970s the attribution was changed to Mexican and the fabric correctly identified as cotton.
Summary
A huipil is a blouse-like garment that forms part of the traditional dress worn by Guatemalan women. Huipils are hand-woven by the women themselves, usually on a portable 'back-strap' or 'belt' loom, which is secured around the waist of the weaver, enabling her to continue weaving when opportunity and time permit. Huipils are very simply constructed; they consist of a woven cotton or wool rectangle with an opening left at the top for the head, much like a tunic. The weave is either plain or brocaded, which can then be embroidered or appliquéd if further decoration is desired. Patterns are often particular to the weaver's village or region and are therefore a useful clue to the huipil's origins.



This huipil was given to the museum by Alfred P. Maudslay (1850-1931), a British diplomat, archaeologist and explorer who assembled a significant collection of South American textiles while travelling the continent between 1880 and 1907.
Collection
Accession Number
T.264-1928

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record createdNovember 7, 2002
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