Having toured ruins most of the day, with many more to go, a museum/store sounded like a nice break and Casa del Tejido Antigua was easy access, situated between San Jeròmino and La Recolecciòn. A friendly man took our 5Q (US$.60) admission (donation) and gave us a quick rundown of what we would see.
Casa del Tejido Antiguo means house of the ancient weavings and this museum is dedicated to textiles of Guatemala. Since long before the Spanish conquest, the people of Guatemala wore clothing specific to their community. Even though styles, patterns, and materials have changed some, this is still the case, especially among women. This museum shows (outfits) from many towns. They are displayed on mannequins, often times the whole family, and well signed with what town the traje came from, when it was made, and what details to look for to differentiate it from other towns' clothing. The women's huipiles (blouses) are usually the easiest way to distinguish regional differences and sometimes even indicate the woman's marital status and position in the community. They are usually embroidered beautifully and can take months to make. Depending on the town, they are embroidered with geometric, floral or animal patterns, sometimes only around the collar but often times the whole thing. The corte (wrap around skirt) can also be an indicator of region although this is less common now. Other articles of clothing, like the faja (sash), perraje (shawl), and tzute (mullti-purpose scarf) occasionally denote location. Men's outfits are also on display although are rarely worn in present day.
After seeing the trajes, we headed over to watch the weaving display where a woman in a traditional huipil was using a small loom. She answered a few questions and told us where she was from. We should have been able to tell by her clothing but our recently acquired knowledge had already turned into a blur of bright colors and pretty patterns.
The store section was our next stop. Although small, it had an incredible assortment of huipiles, woven material and cortes. All the other accessories were available too. Prices ranged from expensive, for the high quality, heavily woven pieces to inexpensive for scarves and such. It looked to us, although we know very little, to be quality goods. We spent a long time perusing with no pressure from the employees to buy. We eventually left, with our newly purchased treasures, to see more ruins.
La Casa del Tejido Antiguo is open Monday through Saturday from 9:15 to 5:15. To get here from the plaza walk north along Av 5 for three blocks; you will dead end at La Merced church; turn left on C1; go three and a half blocks; the museum is on the left.