Mitontic, Chiapas a Tzotzil village.
Web gallery by Bob Freund
with particiaption of Karen Elwell and Tom Aleto , Narratives by Karen Elwell 9/2005


Chps Tzo Mitontic cape
We drove to the Tzotzil community of Mitontic to purchase one of its famous capes. Mitontic is reached by a paved road that winds down through the Municipio of Chamula. We passed many homes where women were weaving the heavy, black wool Chamula skirts. Mitontic is a small town that sits in a narrow valley at the base of a high, sheer rock wall.

We drove into town hoping to find a weaving coop or someone selling textiles. We saw a woman come out of her house with an armload of textiles and assumed that she might be taking them out to sell. We jumped out of the car and approached this woman and her friends, who looked frightened and astonished upon seeing us. None of the women spoke Spanish. Someone went next door and returned with a middle-aged man who spoke some Spanish. He was very suspicious, even after we explained that we were in town to purchase a cape. Back then, we didn´t know the word for cape is "toca," which led to even greater confusion. One of the women brought out a beautiful cape to show us. The man said, "This one is real expensive." We answered, "Okay." He replied, "This will cost you a lot of money." We answered, "Tha`´s fine." After more of this back-and-forth, he finally realized that we really did want to buy the toca and we paid him his price. The embroidered lozenge-shaped designs on the cape are known as "dog spots" or "dog paws."

We stopped at a kiosk on the plaza to have a soft drink and watched local elementary school children practice folk dances for an upcoming public presentation. Had a nice chat with the friendly woman running the kiosk and her son. The huipiles worn in Mitontic seem identical to those worn in nearby Chenalho. Only the front of the huipil is tucked inside the pleated wrap skirt. The sides and back are left to hang out. This style is seen in many Guatemalan communities. Women wear wide, red belts. The braided ends of the belts end in big tassels that hang attractively in front of the women’s bodies.

A few men were wearing the men’s costume of long-sleeved white shirt and very short white pants. This is topped off with a black wool poncho and cowboy-style hat.

We strolled around the plaza to the church of San Miguel. We noticed that the many tiny shops near the church were very well stocked with the long, thin colored candles that are set on fire and burned during certain Maya ceremonies. We also noticed that many people from neighboring Chamula live in Mitontic.