In his book “Relación de las Cosas de Yucatán”, Fray Diego de Landa mentions that the Maya women “wove with curiosity works of the pen to adorn their garments”. According to historians, they were embroidering with maguey thorns, or with thin feathers, to make their needles, stringing them with their colorful threads which they used to embroider cloth.
All the women learned to embroider as young girls; in a cenote they found remains of textiles embroidered with drawings of stars and flowers, which shows that they were embroidering since the prehispanic era, and since then the Maya women have not ceased to embroider.
With the Spanish conquest, the metal needle arrived, accompanied by new designs, and everywhere in New Spain, the express will of Isabel of Portugal, wife of Carlos V, was encouraged: when she learned of the idleness of the Mexican women of nobility, she asked the Archbishop to suggest to them that they occupy themselves, and if necessary she would send them “linen and all the necessities to spin thread.”
The Spanish women and the Conceptionist nuns in Mérida since 1596 were the ones who taught the girls and maids how to embroider in their school. Currently, embroidery is an activity practiced by the Mestizas in general; with the sale of these beautiful garments they help the income for their families.
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