In 1935, Mathilda Geddings Gray, a prominent Louisianan philanthropist and oil heiress, traveled throughout rural villages in Guatemala collecting textiles and taking photographs of the indigenous clothing or traje. Accumulated on what would later be known as Tulane Expedition XII, this MARI collection contains over 1000 photographs and more than 100 pieces of clothing.
The traditional dress of the Guatemalans is a statement of cultural and personal identity. Each village has its own way of weaving and these differing aesthetic styles create an overall picture of Guatemala that is colorful, culturally rich, and unique.
At the same time, photographs from this expedition also highlight common threads in how the men and women of Guatemala dressed themselves regardless of differing aesthetic styles throughout the region. Furthermore, “western-style” shirts and other apparel slowly made their way to rural Guatemala.