In this blog post we just want to quickly clarify a recent discussion we had amongst our team in Guatemala. In the past we had always been using Maya and Mayan somewhat interchangeable when speaking English. In our minds it was always something more to do with singular vs plural and essentially what sounded right when speaking. In writing, it was always a choice of which seemed more natural and flowed better for the reader.
Don Victor, an indigenous man wearing traditional Maya jacket from Sololá
Here in Guatemala, we don’t tend to use the word Maya frequently in the local dialect. Neither Spanish nor Kaqchikel. The women we work with are described as indigenous and the word tipico is used in reference to traditional clothes and customs. Hint hint where our name comes from.
As for internationally marketing our brand, Maya/Mayan is the term best suited to depict who we are working with and the origin of these fashions. Correctly put: Maya women and Maya fabric. However, based strictly on our personal opinion, Mayan simply sounds better. Our incorrect preference: Mayan women and Mayan fabric. However, regardless of our preference, grammatically speaking we have to make some changes.
Maya is both accepted as a noun and adjective and is never pluralized as Mayan or Mayans.
Mayan is actually only used in one single case: when referring to Mayan languages.
Hiptipico artisan partner Rosa speaking the Mayan language Tz'utujil
Meaning when we are talking about the women and textiles we must always use Maya.
In explaining our mentality and shedding light on the topic we hope to help spread the knowledge of the correct usage of Maya / Mayan. In the meantime, we totally understand how it can be confusing.