The Ixchel Museum began the series Tejidos Indígenas de Guatemala in 1992 in order to publish different parts of the catalog of its collection, and at the same time to present results of its research on the historical use of clothing and the textile tradition of the Maya. The theme of this second volumen in the series is the natural brown cotton known in Guatemala as cuyuscate or ixcaco in Spanish, and as k’ako’j in Kaqchikel, one of the languages of the Mayan family. The first chapter provides a botanic and historic overview of cotton in Guatemala. The second and third chapters focus on Tecpán, a Kaqchikel community which was known in the past for its sobrehuipiles woven with brown cotton. The second chapter details the historic and ethnographic context of the changes experienced in the cofradía organization, and especially in its ceremonial dress, over the last 50 years of the twentieth century, thus providing a means of understanding the virtual extinction of the cofradía sobrehuipil woven with cuyuscate. The third chapter reconstructs the uses, values, and meaning of cuyuscate through the memories of elderly weavers who learned to spin and weave this fiber in their youth. Finally, the fourth chapter, the catalog itself, contains a study of the use of cuyuscate based on information concerning the more than 300 pieces of the Museum’s collection, with technical descriptions and photographs of 25 selected garments. Three glossaries – one providing terms related to textile manufacture, one in Kaqchikel-English, and another Spanish-English – complete the work.
The multidisciplinary team that worked on the research on cuyuscate included the following persons: Idalma Mejía de Rodas, a nurse and anthropologist, who did the archival work on botanic and historic aspects of cotton in Guatemala; Sergio Francisco Romero and Ana Rebeca Rubio, advanced students in anthropology at the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, and Linda Asturias de Barrios, a sociocultural anthropologist, carried out the ethnographic research in Tecpán. Rosario Miralbés de Polanco, Curator of Textiles of the Ixchel Museum, did the study of cuyuscate in the institution’s collection, and provided the technical descriptions of the selected garments. Margarita López Raquec, a Maya linguist, revised the original glossary written in Kaqchikel-Spanish, which had been written by Romero and Rubio. Linda Asturias de Barrios coordinated and edited the various parts of the research and Barbara Knoke de Arathoon, Director of Exhibits of the Museum, provided the final technical revisión of the work. Nancie L. González, a social anthropologist, did the translation from Spanish into English and Barbara Knoke de Arathoon, anthropologist, edited the English versión.