What Clothing Do Mayans Wear?

Mayan clothing differs among genders and social class: typically, Mayan men wear outfits with a shirt, pants and hat, while women wear shirts, overshirts and huipils, resembling elaborate blouses. For errands, layering in colder weather and carrying children, women wear long sling-style shawls, along with sashes for decoration. Men decorate their outfits with sashes too, along with belts and large bags called capixay.

Although identifying as one people, the present-day Mayan society breaks down into 14 distinct regional groups. Each group contains unique identifying features, including different clothing styles and textiles. Mayans generally wear the same types of clothes, but cut, color and fabric vary among the distinct ethnic groups. Variations also exist among classes: the wealthiest citizens, male and female, of all ethnic groups adorn their outfits with elaborate jewels, such as jade, and feathers from parrots and macaws.

For women, huipils serve as primary garments for showing individuality. Huipils exist in many patterns and colors, indicating women’s origins. Women wear plain, conservative huipils for daily activities, reserving elaborate huipils for special occasions. Similarly, men wear slacks and shirts daily, adding decorative collars to formal shirts and saving higher-quality pants for special occasions. Some pants even feature decorations of animals or human figures. Completing their outfits, men and women wear sandals as footwear.