Maya Threads: A Woven History of Chiapas


Chip Morris’s observant eyes have tracked the history, meaning, and evolution of textiles in this richly illustrated definitive work on the textiles of Chiapas.

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Product Description

Centuries ago, in what is now known as the Classic period, the Maya people created a magnificent culture. Pyramids, temples, astronomical sites, populous cities, and a culture of beauty and sophistication marked wha we now know as southern Mexico and Central America. The mysterious “collapse” of the great city-states of the Maya world to the 10th century is as great archaeological mystery.

And yet the Maya people, and their culture, live on. Especially in the state of Chiapas in southern Mexico, a regional battered by centuries of invasions, subjugations, civil wars, and severe economic hardship, the Maya continue to celebrate and sustain their heritage in extraordinary traditional dress and festivals that are both riotous and sacred.

Enter the world through the pages of this book. Understand the roots of Maya culture and costume as it is expressed in their ancient history and legends, and in their ever-evolving, colorful, beautifully handcrafted dress.

You will see exquisite gauze fabrics that trace their origins from the 9th century AD to a present-day lowland village; festival wear that blends Roman Catholicism and paganism, reverence and mockery; gloriously brocaded and embroidered wardrobes that tie communities together; embroidery techniques that reflect displacements and migration – in other words, fabrics that trace the history and evolution of a people.

With more than 250 stunning photos, illustrations, and maps, Maya Threads explores a full range of textiles and offers an in-depth look at the region’s people. It vibrantly showcases an exuberant, private people whose textiles are constantly evolving on their own terms.

Maya Threads is the ultimate sourcebook for anyone interested in the culture and history of Chiapas. Perfect for an armchair traveler, fashion student, textile artisan, curious observer, or world traveler, this book offers a fascinating historical journey through fabric.



Walter F. Morris, Jr (“Chip”) came to Chiapas as a tourist from Boston in 1972 and has stayed on to become deeply expert in the textiles and culture of the Highlands. His fluency in Tzotzil and his extensive time in Maya villages have given him unique insights into the history and symbolism of Maya textiles, which he has shared generously in his writings. Chip is a founder of Sna Jolobil, a weaving collective based in San Cristóbal, which both supports weavers and fosters excellence in native textile arts. He received a MacArthur Award in 1983 for his work in textile symbology in Chiapas.

Carol Karasik is a writer and editor who has produced a number of books on modern Maya culture. She is the author of The Turquoise Trail, a popular book about intercultural exchange between Mesoamerica and the Southwest. She recently published a novel, The Drum Wars: A Modern Maya Story. For the past ten years she has been studying ancient astronomical alignments at Palenque.

Janet Schwartz is a native New Yorker who came to Chiapas in 1978 on a Fulbright Scholarship to study the Bonampak murals. She has gone on to become a clothing designer, a tour guide, and ultimately a journalist/photographer with thousands of bylines to her credit.

Published by Thrums Books

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Additional information


paperback with flaps




9" x 11"


245 color photographs, 16 black and white illustrations, 6 maps


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