The Huipil is Our Whole Life

Anne Kelly

Posted on July 09 2014

This beautiful poem by our dear friend Tere conveys the treasure that a huipil is for a Mayan woman. The poem is also a response to the increasing market demand for used huipiles, which are cut up to be used as components in accessories like handbags and shoes. Often, desperate for cash, Mayan women sell their beautiful huipiles to middlepeople at such a low cost that they may never be able to replace them.
The Huipil Is Our Whole Life
Teresa Gomez Ramos
It's not beautiful, it's wonderful
It's not expensive, it's valuable
It's not an item of clothing, it's a piece of our cosmogony
It's not a product, it's an expression of life
It doesn't lose its value with time
Time transforms it into an intangible possession
You don't recycle it, you conserve it
If I sell it, it's not because I don't need it anymore
It's because I need to feed my children
It's because I have no corn in the house
I know I will never have another one like it
But my children will be grateful
I didn't sell it, they gave me a few quetzals for it
If I had sold it, I would have put a good price on it
I exchanged it for medicine for my little girl
I once had a huipil that I loved so much, but I sold it
I needed to pay for my daughter's studies
I haven't bought a new huipil
They're expensive
I don't even have money to buy the thread
But I'm happy to see that my child is healthy
I'm wearing a simple blouse, it's OK, I am dressed
Oh, mother dear, our huipil is our whole life
It carries our sorrows and our joys
Our memories and our dreams...

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