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Hammocks may bring to mind thoughts of outdoor relaxation, but they’re also artistic pieces of Mayan Mexican culture. The Mayans of the Yucatan Peninsula have been making strong, comfortable, beautiful hammocks for sleeping, resting, and storage for thousands of years.
Hammocks were initially discovered by Spanish explorers when they arrived in what is now called Cuba. They saw the Taino Indians sleeping and socializing in primitive style hammocks: first woven from Hamack tree bark and later, Sisal plant leaves, which were softer and more durable than the bark.
Trade among the Indians and explorers brought the hammock to Central and South America and modern-day Mexico in the Yucatan Peninsula where the Mayans lived. When the Spaniards introduced the Mayans to cotton, the Mayans recognized its quality and began using it exclusively in their hammock weaving.
Since then, hammock popularity has grown. Westerners have discovered that hammocks are a great ergonomic choice for sleeping, because they distribute weight evenly and reduce stress on the body. The resulting increase in Mayan hammock production supports the development of Mayan rural communities and the families of many talented women who weave these special hammocks while they care for their children at home.
One hundred percent cotton hammocks are still handwoven today by Mayan women living in remote villages of Yucatan and Quintana Roo (nylon is sometimes used on the loops for added durability). They weave with old-fashioned vertical looms in traditional patterns uniquely designed by each weaver. As a result, it may take from 2-6 weeks to finish one hammock, depending on its size.
Mayan hammocks are made with great attention to detail, especially implementing a tight weave with very few visible knots and no loose strings. They are made of thinner, tightly woven, soft cotton string, have tightly bound end-strings (where the hammock “bed” is connected to the loops), tighter loops for maintaining hammock shape and strength, and they don’t use spreader bars on the sides. Instead, by laying across the center of the hammock, against its length, a flatter, wider, more comfortable resting space is created.
Many modern companies market loosely woven hammocks with longer end-strings to save production time and costs, but these hammocks are less supportive, less comfortable; and will snag easier and stretch out faster.
Mayan hammocks, Yucatan hammocks, or Mexican hammocks are the highest quality, most comfortable, artfully handmade hammocks in the world – and they’re only made in the Yucatan Peninsula. The best way to get one is when you visit Cancun or the Riviera Maya with a Yucatan Holidays’ vacation package.