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Desiree Schaeffer: Casa de Artes

Ceremonial Huipiles from Mayan Guatemala

Casa de Artes is a 50-year-old gallery dedicated to preserving and promoting traditional and authentic Mayan art from Guatemala located in the colonial city of Antigua. All of their items are original and designed for traditional and everyday purposes. Desiree Schaeffer represents the third generation in charge of the shop. With years of experience selling folk art, she had developed a discerning eye for quality and authenticity. Desiree ensures that each and every piece sold by Casa de Artes is unique, well made, and represents the essence of Mayan craft and culture. 

For the Folk Art Market, Casa de Artes will be offering beautiful, handmade ceremonial huipiles—light-weight blouses woven from cotton, silk, and rayon. The designs and methods of making these garments vary by town. Pieces coming from Xela (Quetzaltenango) and Santa Lucía Utatlan are produced on a foot loom from very fine threads. Colors, imparted through natural dyes, and patterns are woven into the garments to create brocades. The patterns from these locations feature rhomboids, zigzags, and hummingbirds perched atop corn plants. The necklines of the huipiles are finished with decorative embroidery. Huipiles made in Solola are very similar, but they are produced on backstrap looms. This is an ancient Mayan weaving method that dates back to pre-Hispanic times. The third type of huipil comes from the Qʼeqchiʼ ethnic group of Alta Verapaz, who use fine starched threads to create gauzy fabrics perfectly suited for keeping cool during the hot and humid Guatemalan summers. Their designs are always related to the cosmos, which makes them unique. Distinctive white-on-white blouses come from this area.

For Desiree, getting to know the craftspeople and selling their art gives her a great sense of satisfaction. The income earned through Casa de Artes allows these talented artisans to build better lives for themselves and their families while promoting and maintaining the traditions of the Mayan culture.