University of Southern Indiana

Textiles of Central America 2008

Textiles of Central America: A Reflection of Tradition and Fine Artistry

Central American textiles from the University Collection, and on loan from the Aakhus Collection, are displayed in the McCutchan Exhibition Space in the Wright Administration building.

Throughout human existence clothing has been a way of self expression. Different colors, fabrics, and motifs are various ways of proclaiming individual identities, along with being part of a social group.

The Maya of Central America have been creating textiles on the backstrap loom for over two thousand years. The Kuna women, from the San Blas Islands off the northern coast of Panama, had originally tattooed their bodies with geometric design. After being exposed to preassembled fabrics, the body tattoos were replaced by creating their own reverse appliqué blouses.

The clothing has become a symbol of the women’s identity. Beautifully dressed in hand-made garments, these women are walking symbols of their culture’s tradition.

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