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 these gorgeous hair wraps by hand using a traditional pedal loom and then adds embellishment like sparkly garland tassels or hand-beaded details.
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.
And we’re obsessed!
In this blog, we will give you to the step by step instructions on how to wrap your hair in a traditional beaded head wrap just like Maria in San Antonio Palopo, Lake Atitlan does! Feel free to adapt as needed to your own personal style, such as braiding them in like Amy did!
Want to learn the traditional style? Keep reading!
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 longer left side and wrap it around your hair to secure a ponytail so the ribbon ends up on your right side. Wrap it around the ponytail one more time.
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 twist it around the ponytail until the very end of your hair.
Step 5: Once you’ve reached the end of your ponytail, wrap the ribbon around the bottom of your hair to secure it nice and tight.
Step 6: Take the end of your wrapped ponytail and wrap it over the top of your head like a headband.
Step 7: Take the remaining ribbon and cross it over the headband to hold it in place. Continue with the Right side and cross it over the headband forming an X.
Step 8: Depending on the length of your hair, you’ll have some extra hanging down. Just pull it tight and tuck it underneath your hair to hold it in place.
By purchasing a Tocoyal not only are you supporting Maria but you are also honoring Indigenous art!
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