Skirts: Cortes, Morgas, and Skirt Material

Skirt material is usually hand-woven on a foot loom by men. A woman then takes rectangular panel(s) of  cloth and sews the ends of the cloth together to form a "tube-shaped" wrap-around skirt. Sometimes a "randa" or embroidered seam is used to decorate the seam, other times it is a simple machine or hand-sewn seam.  If the woman wants a longer skirt, she may attach two panels of foot-loomed cloth together.  In some pueblos, two paneled skirts with colorful "randa" seams connecting the panels is traditional and preferred.  A woman then steps into the tube skirt, pulls it around her with appropriate pleats and tucks and then attaches it firmly with a sash or belt.  In a few areas such as Coban the skirts have a distinctively different form.

Traditionally most pueblos had a distinct skirt that that was worn with its huipil. The skirt was called a "morga" and  usually made of un-mercerized cotton that was dyed various shades of indigo blue and looked like quality "denim".  Variations in white or lighter blue stripes and the type of embroidered seam or "randa" that was used to attach fabric together made each pueblo's morga distinctive. A few pueblos had black and white morgas.  Today commercial dyes have replaced the natural indigo dye and in many pueblos the morgas have been replaced with "jaspe" or ikat "corte". 

The "jaspe" (also called jaspeado) corte has tie-died threads that make various patterns in the stripes of the skirt. The threads are generally cotton. Some skirts also have threads made of acrylic, metalic and other synthetic materials. Patterns are complex and some have named designs such as "munacas" (dolls).  Textile centers such as Salcaja, San Cristobal Totonicapan and Totonicapan make the rainbow of  jaspe corte cloth that are worn by Mayan women from many pueblos. Some pueblos have jaspe corte designs and colors that are distinct to the pueblo (for example, Amolonga, Santiago Atitlan, Santa Caterina Palopo and Chichicastenango) and probably have local foot-loom weavers as well as buy from the textile centers.

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