Funk Center Lecture Explores Woven World of Mayas Dec. 10

MELBOURNE, FLA.—Florida Institute of Technology will host Gabrielle Vail, assistant professor of International and Area Studies at New College of Florida, as part of the Friends of Textiles Lecture Series Dec. 10 at 6 p.m. in the Denius Student Center’s Hartley Room on campus. Her lecture, “The Woven World: Textiles of the Pre-Columbian Past and Contemporary Maya Cultures,” will be preceded by a reception at 5:15 p.m.

For indigenous Maya people living today, weaving on a backstrap loom is an ongoing tradition that links them to an ancient past with roots stemming back for more than a millennium into classic and preclassic Maya culture.Brocaded motifs supply information about the weaver’s community and often have mythological significance.

Moreover, the wearing of ceremonial clothing when participating in rituals that connect the wearer with the supernatural realm is a practice that spans the prehispanic and contemporary Maya worlds. This illustrated lecture provides a visual tour of the mythologies and rituals important to Maya cultures and highlights the connections between the prehispanic past and weavers of today.

Vail specializes in the study of prehispanic Maya culture as depicted in screenfold books, called codices, and in works by contemporary Maya weavers from the Guatemalan highlands and Chiapas, Mexico. She received her Ph.D. from Tulane University in 1996 and has published seven books, over 40 articles and book chapters, and the online website (, with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Additionally, Vail has curated several exhibitions of Maya weaving and textiles, and has sponsored workshops with master weavers from the Alta Verapaz region of Guatemala.

This lecture is presented in conjunction with the center’s current exhibit, Textiles & Culture: Highlights from the Permanent Collection, which will be on view at the Ruth Funk Center through Dec. 14.

The cost for the lecture is $10 for the general public; it is free to Friends of Textiles members and full-time students with ID. For more information, visit or contact the Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts at (321) 674-8313.

IMAGE: courtesy of Gabrielle Vail

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