Pedro de Alvarado’s account of the long-coat ichca huipil

A beautiful example of the long-coat ichca huipil, here seen on another Jaina island funerary figurine from the classic Maya period. Aside from his long-coat, a couple of other articles of armor are present on this figure that will be discussed later. This picture is from the Kerr portfolio at the FAMSI website.

A beautiful example of the long-coat ichca huipil, here seen on another Jaina island funerary figurine from the classic Maya period. Aside from his long-coat, a couple of other articles of armor are present on this figure that will be discussed later. This picture is from the Kerr portfolio at the FAMSI website.

An interesting description of the long-coat ichca huipil from the conquest era comes down to us from the so-called conquistador of Guatemala, Pedro de Alvarado, from 1524. In a letter to Hernando Cortes, Alvarado describes a battle with the Highland Maya in which his army engages warriors clothed in this extremely heavy version of the ichca huipil.
‘… because they came so heavily armed that those who fell to the ground could not get up – their arms being corselets of cotton three fingers thick, reaching to their feet, and arrows, and long lances…’
These long coats are mainly to be seen on classic era ceramic figurines, so it is great to have an account from the conquest era showing that the use of this form of armor continued in use (at least in some areas) for probably at least eight hundred years. The translation I used is from the book ‘Invading Guatemala’ pp. 41-42.

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