Chapter 14. Voices through time in Meso-American textiles

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This paper interprets the Bakhtinian notion of polyphony regarding texts in the textiles of Meso-American women. Although this is not a detailed interpretation or decipherment of a text itself – as this would require knowledge from within indigenous parameters of the cosmological, cosmogonic and social visions of a culture foreign to the Western mentality – I present concepts of temporality implicit in the textiles, underscoring their continual inscription and re-inscription linked to the individual creativity of each weaver-wearer. I propose that Meso-American textiles are one of the last areas for ancient texts to take refuge. Once the former sites for texts were decimated – body surfaces, books, walls, rituals – textiles began to take on greater importance. They constitute a visible but silent space; their reading passes unnoticed through centuries. Their polyphony is based on the community’s continuous historic and cyclic re-inscription that adheres to strict norms, codes, and structures. At the same time, individual contribution marks the intertextuality of the text woven by Meso-American women.


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