Steeped in Mayan culture, Guatemala is a good place to buy traditional handicrafts to take home. Most notably among the artisan products are hand-woven textiles and clothes which allow you to add a delightful splash of color to your wardrobe. Every weaving tells a story and each design reflects a symbol of Mayan mythology. The clothes traditionally worn by locals are representative of the significance of their region or village. You will find these for sale all over Guatemala in locally owned stores and in cities.
Also available is traditional-style jewelry, often made with jade. Jade is a gemstone that is mined in Central America and was traded by the Mayans as a precious commodity. Wood carving is also an artwork that goes back to Mayan times. The Peten region (northern Guatemala) is a good place to find hand-crafted products made of wood, including masks, which are a popular souvenir.
In Guatemala City, you can find a good assortment of fabrics, clothing, and jewelry from the Lin Canola store in Zona 1. To grab a bargain at the market, check out Mercado Central (Central Market) on 8a Avenida and 6a Calle. It is open between 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on Sunday. For home products, try Textura (Diagonal 6, Zona 10), which has modern adaptations of traditional designs. Guatemala City has a range of shopping malls, the largest being Pradera Concepcion (Carretera a El Salvador). Zona 10, the main entertainment district also has many fashion-forward boutiques.
Antigua Guatemala is another great place for shopping and hosts a range of handicraft and convenience stores. The Mercado de Artesanias (Artisans’ Market) is a great place to barter for textiles and jewelry. There is also a branch of Textura in Antigua Guatemala (5a Avenida Norte) for stylish home furnishings based on Mayan designs. You can buy export grade Guatemalan coffee from Tostaduria Antigua (6a Calle Poniente).
Tips on Buying Guatemalan Textiles
The colorful, traditional Mayan designs are one of the most popular souvenirs in Guatemala and as a result, a sub-industry of mass-produced fakes has risen to take advantage of the booming market. To ensure you are buying a genuine product, it is recommended that you purchase fabrics from a co-operative store. Or to ensure genuinely, take a trip to one of the villages which are famous for their traditional weavers, most clustered around the central highlands.