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Title: Weaving paradoxes : materiality, innovation and personhood in Guatemalan Maya clothing
Author: Tohveri, Pia Mira Marika
ISNI:       0000 0001 3534 4290
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2006
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This thesis discusses how the materiality of weaving and wearing cloth parallels the construction of personhood among the Maya in Guatemala. Maya clothing is renown for bright colours that accentuate personhood and community-bound origin. Colour is highly affective in the construction of Maya self-aesthetics due to its connotation with ancestral knowledge and positive bodily states. The potency of colour has allowed for political economy to be invested in clothing, and at present clothes define the Maya body politic. Efficacy of Maya cloth is revealed in the process of weaving, during which the selection of colours and thread types affect the quality of the finished cloth. Weavers' skills are dependent on the relationship of the body with the loom, which is considered inseparable, for the ability to weave good quality cloth. For Maya women, weaving provides the time and space during which both cloth and personhood is created and maintained. Weaving is an occasion for the exchange of information pertaining to the making of cloth as well as dealing with aspects of womanhood. The handling of looms, threads and patterns provides an axis for the discussion of topics that parallel Maya girls' initiation to adulthood. Weaving as cultural performance encompasses the gathering of women and enables weavers to connect with women within and outside their kin group. The increased flow of tourism to Guatemala has expanded the popularity of Maya cloth. Weavers have started to change the visual form of Maya cloth by introducing new designs, colours and patterns to comply with the tourist market. This allows Maya women to adhere to cultural knowledge and simultaneously to transform it. Stealing and dealing in weaving skills are a part of getting ahead in the weaving business. Doing this, Maya women have attained a powerful economic presence in the local and global world through the manipulation of cultural knowledge.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available