Guatemalan Textiles in the M.A.R.I. Collections

A Swatch of M.A.R.I. History

In 1935, Matilda Geddings Gray, a prominent Louisiana philanthropist and oil heiress, traveled throughout rural communities in Guatemala collecting textiles and taking photographs of the indigenous clothing or traje. This M.A.R.I. collection contains over 1000 photographs and more than 100 pieces of clothing.

Group at Mayan Inn
Group at the Mayan Inn, Chichicastenango, Dolores Morgadanes and Matilda Geddings Gray at Center

The traditional dress of Guatemala is a statement of cultural and personal identity. Each community 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, we can see how “western-style” shirts and other apparel slowly made their way to rural Guatemala.

(below) The original exhibit at M.A.R.I., Spring 2016
Wall 1

Wall 2

Wall 3