Central America

The Maya Quiché Indians of Chichicastenango are the largest indigenous group in Guatemala. The traditional men’s costumes are really quite unusual. They wear short, knee-length pants and hip-long tunics made of hand-woven, black wool embroidered in designs that indicate their social rank. They do not wear hats but cover their heads with a woven, brocaded cloth trimmed with tassels, worn swathed around in a regal manner and with a tassel hanging down one side. They carry shoulder bags as their suits have no pockets.


The  Costumes of the Americas Museum is a museum that houses one of the largest collections of authentic North, Central, and South American indigenous clothing and accessories. Costumes from some Caribbean countries are also included in this collection.

North America

Welcome to the Costumes of the Americas Museum Website

The Charros stand for the finest male element in México with their horseman-ship, rope work and code of honor. At the Fiesta of San Pasqual in Guadalajara, Jalisco you can see many exciting Charro events at Jaripeos (Mexican rodeos). Charro suits are adapted from the style of Spanish Colonial riders and are trimmed in Soutache Braid, or on more formal versions, with silver of gold emblems called botonaduras. 

This Iroquois deerskin dress was acquired for Pan American Round Table I  by a winter Texan from Canada who lived near the Six Nations Indian Reservation in the Northeast Region. She arranged to have a traditional dress made for us by an Iroquois woman. It took the hides of 4 deer to make the dress. The bullet holes in the skins were hidden under the fringe. The dress is fringed and beaded using porcupine quills. On their backs, Iroquois women carried their babies in a cradleboard, or Tikinagan. This Tikinagan is laced with deer hide straps, and the headboard strap is made of moose hide. The headboard’s curved strip is made of Birch wood tied and set to shape; its purpose is to prevent injury to the baby should the mother fall. Lace found on the hand-pieced baby’s blanket is a status symbol, and the bead pendants are there to amuse the baby.

South America

The making of lace was introduced to Paraguay in the 1600s by the Spaniards. The indigenous Guarani women incorporated their own geometric and floral designs into the pattern of their exquisite handwork, Ñanduti Lace, which means “spider web”. A Guarani legend tells of a girl whose lover failed to appear for their wedding. She searches for him through the woods, and at nightfall comes upon his body. She kneels beside him, and keeps a vigil until morning. At dawn, she sees that his body has been covered with spider webs. She vows to copy the work of the spiders, and, with a needle and thread, she works for hours on a piece of Ñandutí Lace, a shroud for her lover.