Mayan Hammocks Have Been Used in Yucatan for Centuries
Mayan Hammocks have been used in Yucatan for centuries, but they were not part of the Maya Civilization Classic era.
Some people say that the custom originated in Haiti, but since there is nothing written on this topic prior to the arrival of the Spanish conquerors, it is difficult to determine the exact origin of the Mayan hammock.
Christopher Columbus introduced hammocks to Europe, when he brought a few back from America.
They became popular during the 17th century, especially in Spain.
Indigenous Mayan artisans are known for making some of the finest hammocks, (hamacas) in the country.
I would recommend you buy your Mayan hammocks in one of the established hammock shops in Merida Yucatan, which you can find downtown near the main square, or in any hammock shop of the city you happen to be in.
I would say the shops are the best places in Merida Yucatan to buy hammocks because this is where you can get the best deals; money and quality wise, and can also climb in to try the size.
Shop owners can also give you a few pointers on washing, storing, and hanging your hammock.
It’s not a very good idea to buy Mayan hammocks from street vendors downtown Merida; you might end up overpaying, and getting a hammock of uncertain quality.
Then again, If you buy from vendors with stands on the edge of the highway at the entrance of the small surrounding towns and villages, you might get a pretty good deal, because these are usually people who weave their own hammocks to help their economy, and usually sell them to the passing tourists. These hammocks are often woven in beautiful colors and are very well made.
When buying a Mayan hammock you have to decide whether to purchase one made from cotton or nylon: nylon dries faster, therefore it is a better choice for humid climates, but, cotton is softer and more comfortable; the bad news is that cotton thread colors tend to fade faster.
Many years ago they used to make and sell hammocks from the fiber of the sisal plant (henequen - agave) they were the cheapest, but the fiber is very coarse and they scratch your body, of course the more you wash it, the softer it gets.
They were woven and used by the Mayan farmer families and of course they were made available for sale, you might still be able to find a few vendors selling these hammocks in the main market downtown Merida.
I wouldn’t recommend that you purchase one of these, they are not too comfortable.
A word of warning, hammocks are not made of silk, if someone tries to sell you a silk hammock, it is actually nylon.
Mayan Hammocks come in both double-threaded and single-threaded weaves; the double-threaded ones are denser which makes them sturdier.
There is a wide selection of colors, prices and styles. Prices vary mainly according to quality and size, and they range from 15.00 USD to 200.00 USD.
Hammock Weaving is An Art
Hammock weaving is an art, which is passed on from generation to generation. To meet the growing demand, entire villages across the state of Yucatan make hammocks still in the traditional manner, that is, hand woven by men, women and children. It’s an important source of income for many families.
Two special needles and a loom are needed as tools to produce a hammock, which can take from one to two weeks depending on its size.
Hammocks are Special Personal Items
Hammocks are special to Mayan indigenous people because, they play a very important role in their lives; they are the place where they are born, sleep at night, take naps, conceive and die. It’s also their everyday furniture. Most of them do not own beds as we know them.
The rest of the population including myself, own a bed and a hammock, you always have a hammock hung next to your bed, in case you wake up in the middle of the night and you feel like sleeping in the hammock; you just jump in.
Or you might just want to take a siesta (nap) like I usually do; I cannot live without my hammock. The point is whether rich or poor you need to own a hammock in Yucatan; it is considered a personal item just like your toothbrush, you cannot do without one.
Hammocks are so symbolically and culturally important for all people in Yucatan, that all houses when built have hammock hooks installed on all their bedroom walls.
Hammocks are very popular today and can be hung from trees, hooks or hammock stands. So there is no reason why you should not own one.