In rural Guatemala, the indigenous Maya culture is still very much alive and visible with the traditional garments that are still worn today. In some villages, the traditional indigenous dress includes an intricate hair wrap. Hair worn in this style is called a tocoyal. Tocoyales vary by region and the hair accessories can range from small, headband-like ribbons to large fabric headdresses.
In our artisan partner María’s town of San Antonio Palopó, the tocoyal is a long, thin woven cinta, or ribbon. She weaves the gorgeous hair wraps by hand using a traditional pedal loom and then adds embellishment like sparkly garland tassels or hand-beaded details.
And we’re obsessed! When we visit, María she loves to share this fun piece of her culture with us and every time we’re impressed with how effortlessly she wraps up the tocoyal and how gorgeous it looks on everyone.
Read on for instructions on how to put your hair up, tocoyal style! It may seem confusing at first but with some practice, we promise you’ll get it. Once you try it, it’s no wonder why the women wear them! Way better than any scrunchie or headband we’ve ever used.
Step 1: Position the head wrap around your neck, make sure that the left side is longer than the right side
Step 2: Take the shorter left side and wrap it around your hair to secure a ponytail so the ribbon ends up on your right side. Cross the longer right side over to your left.
Step 3: Wrap the longer end (now be on your left side) around the top of your head at your hairline, like a headband.
Step 4: Pull the other end of the ribbon under your ponytail and twirl it around the ponytail until the very end of your hair. Once you’ve reached the end of your ponytail, wrap the ribbon around the bottom 3 extra times to secure it nice and tight.
Step 5: Grab the end of your wrapped ponytail and wrap it over the top of your head like a headband. Depending on the length of your hair, you’ll have some leftover. Pull it tight and tuck the leftover piece underneath the ribbon and do the same with the other end of ribbon.
Step 6: Now that you’ve got the technique down, get your own authentic Maya tocoyal hair wrap!
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to order your own customized tocoyales! Want to carry these handmade gems in your store? Visit our wholesale page!
Support María by shopping her handwoven creations on our online store.
> > And if you’re coming to Guatemala, let us take you on a tour of María’s home workshop to experience it all firsthand for yourself!