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Ask the Maxwell Friday: Most Colorful Object?

Detail: Huipil from Cobán, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala
Monday, June 29, 2020 - 2:15pm to Thursday, July 9, 2020 - 2:15pm

Mary W. asked: What is the most colorful item in your collection?

That is a difficult question to answer, with an estimated 3 million items in the collection. But I think this embroidered huipil from Guatemala might fit the bill. It is made of handwoven cotton worked in a brocade technique with an overall geometric pattern in colors like green, blue, pink, yellow, purple, and red.

The huipil is a tunic-like garment worn by indigenous women from Mexico and Central America. It is usually made of two to three rectangular pieces of fabric that are joined together with an opening for the head and (if the sides are sewn) openings for the arms. The decorations and styles reflect the community and ethnic group of the weaver.

This weaving is from the Hozapfel collection (Add Link). The late Dr. Robert Holzapfel was a long time UNM professor of German and an avid collector of textiles. Particularly fond of Maya and Andean examples, he donated his collection to the museum that was accompanied by generous funding for their preservation and access, including an endowment in his name.  See more textiles of the Hozapfel Collection.

Object #: 2016.34.4

Origin: Cobán, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala

Date: Mid-20th century

Collection: Ethnology

Post by Lauren Fuka and Lea McChesney

Additional resources:

Huipil from the Hozapfel Collection of textiles, Maxwell Museum