Traje Típico: Men’s Clothing

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

Components of a man’s traje include a chaqueta (open jacket), camisa (shirt), faja (belt), pantalón (pants), and a more optional sombrero (hat).

Man's Costume
Man’s Costume, Santiago Atitlán, Sololá

The man depicted in the picture on the left below wears a jacket paired with a western-style shirt. He wears a capo (cape) and sports a locally made hat of plaited palma (palm straw). Included in this outfit is a sobrepantalón (split pant). As is common in Guatemala, the man has adopted some western dress since factory-made clothing is faster and cheaper to produce than the traditional handwoven clothing.

(left) Man’s Costume, San Juan Comalapa, Chimaltenango
(right) Man’s Costume, Sololá, Sololá

Men from fishing communities often wear cropped pants, which are practical for activities like fishing, boating, and gathering reeds.

The cofradía system is a major form of religious expression in Guatemala. It is essentially a brotherhood of local men who play active roles in managing certain religious events like holidays, parades, and town affairs.

Church Procession
Church Procession, San Juan Comalapa, Chimaltenango

The cofradía system was introduced by Spanish missionaries in an attempt to Christianize the strong Maya traditions in Central America. Initially, cofradías acted as the central governing body, and administrative officials like judges were chosen from the brotherhood of men. This early system of self-governance allowed for a more autonomous organization within individual communities. Rather than assimilating native practices, cofradías have played a major role in the preservation and revitalization of Maya culture.

Men in Church Procession
Men in Church Procession, San Juan Comalapa, Chimaltenango

While the main role of cofradía members is to plan the feast day for their patron saint, they also have traditional Maya duties that are related to their elevated status like protecting the different ‘sacred bundles’ that live in the region. The cofradía represents a hybridization of Spanish Catholic and Maya ideology, and this material culture is best observed in the cofradía traje.

Cofradia Jacket
Cofradía Jacket, San Juan Comalapa, Chimaltenango; see the complete outfit above (second image from top, right side)

Chaqueta and Pantalon
Chaqueta (left) and Pantalón (right) from Santo Tomás Chichicastenango, El Quiché; see the complete outfit in the first section of the exhibit