Unique Batik Blog

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Tying up the colors of autumn: Welcoming scarves back into the fashion mix

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From a practical perspective, scarves are warm. But from a fashion perspective scarves are still hotter than hot. If you doubt scarves’ fashionable favor visit Pinterest, YouTube, fashion collage website Polyvore or one of the hundreds of bloggers devoted to only scarves. As fall 2015 NYC Fashion Week was in full swing, hourly reports posted on the Web included comments about scarves as a “yummier and richer” (The Observer) key piece to move through fall and winter in style.

Designers used texture and intense color in their fall lines and Unique Batik’s Toto Scarf from Guatemala, San Antonio Mini Stripe and Windowpane Scarf all sport the same hues featured in almost every label’s fall line. For the eco-conscious, our natural dye scarves and natural dye shawls provide shoppers an extra layer of (inner) warmth.

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Also seen on the scene during Fashion Week was unisex application of scarves’ accessorize-ability. While The Art of Manliness doesn’t specifically promote fair trade, its blog does provide suggestions to men on how to pull off the scarf look. But for a serious tutorial on men’s scarves, Real Men Real Style is the hands down winner. RMRS’s scarf section includes an infographic with 11 ways to wear a scarf, a video explaining why a man should wear a scarf and even history lessons on men and scarves.

Women’s fashion still pulls in more attention, floor space and press, though, so it’s no surprise that the online resources devoted to women’s scarves are exhaustive. Where to start? Too many choices can be stressful, so for the scarf novice, YouTube can be a gentle entry to the online world of scarves. Don’t worry about quantity (“25 ways to tie a scarf,” “15 ways to tie a scarf”) or specificity (“How to wear a scarf like a vest,” “How to tie a Hermes scarf”). Just enter “Tying a scarf” in YouTube’s search box and click on the first entry. That’s the most viewed entry and it has not been reported as a bad or spam link.

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For those who have graduated to scarf master status, Pinterest is an excellent source that combines an avalanche of visual stimuli with links to websites that offer tips and tricks. Just type “scarves” in Pinterest’s search box and sit back and scroll away the hours.

Scarf bloggers are women and men who take the accessory even further than imaginable by writing about their devotion to specific brands and types of scarves, creating scarf-inspired outfits on Polyvore and adding the images to their blogs and showing off vintage and retro scarf collections. It’s scarf mania at its best.

Like so much of fashion, scarves can inspire over-consumption, which makes a great case for scarves like those featured on Unique Batik’s website. Despite what Mae West believed, too much of a good thing isn’t necessarily wonderful. Fair trade, natural dyes and ethical production processes are all important ways to make sure fashion stays friendly. Thrift shop finds and handcrafted treasures also keep fashion fun.

Winter is coming, wherever you may be. Cozy up to scarves to keep the season bright!

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Weaving in Guatemala – A Legacy of Status and Beauty

There’s no doubt that hand-woven textiles from Guatemala are some of the most beautiful that you’ll find in the world. For centuries the women of Guatemala have created these stunning, prismatic fabrics with painstaking care and effort, but it’s the spirit and history behind the art of weaving that makes their work so intensely beautiful.

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Beginning with high ranking ancient Mayan women, weaving colorful cotton fabric was not considered to be merely a craft, but a true art form. The Mayans used dyes from natural plant, animal, and mineral sources, and with their spinning whorls they would create their vibrant thread with intense reds, yellows, greens and blues. With the use of a backstrap loom the women would weave intense patterns, geometric shapes, plants, and blooming flowers. The traditional Mayan shift dresses were embellished with these marvelous patterns at the borders around the neck, hem, and sleeves. This whimsical dress is called a ‘ypil’ and is still worn today by modern-day Mayans in Guatemala.

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The fact that Mayan weaving was the purview of noble women explains why the patterns are so arresting, elaborate, and time-consuming to make. The fabric was both an artistic expression and a source of wealth, often given as a gift to rulers and other important figures in society. When a girl was to be married the weaving skills of the bride were always taken into account to determine what marriage gifts would be given to her family.

Woman weaving with backstrap looms is prominently depicted in ancient Mayan art and books where you’ll find drawings of weavers using whorls to spin their thread. On a famous mural in the city of Kalakmul there is an image of a noble woman wearing a soft blue dress decorated at the edges with fantastically embellished golden glyphs. This is an example of a Mayan fabric that has been dyed the sacred shade of “Mayan Blue”, created by binding indigo to clay minerals. This Mayan blue clothing was considered to be the most expensive and highly valued fabric you could find, displaying that a woman was of the highest status imaginable.

figurineAnother key piece of art that proves the importance of weaving in Mayan culture is a figurine found on the island of Jaina, off the coast of Campeche, Mexico. Traditionally a burial place for nobles of Mayan descent, today the island is home to these famous figurines that once served as burial relics. It is here that we find the weaver figurine, portrayed by the goddess Ix Azal Uoh, known as the ‘weaver of life’. This remarkable symbol also pays homage to the sacred spirit within all. Another famous goddesses that depicts the importance of weaving to Mayan culture is Ix Otzil, who weaves the threads of destiny and pays respect to the internal weaver within each of us.

Power, beauty, art, and spirit. It’s clear that the weaving tradition of the Mayan world combines all of these elements and so much more. Fundamental to daily life and ritual, Mayan textiles have pushed themselves into the future and remain some of the most remarkable works of art you’ll find in Guatemala, or from anywhere across the globe.