6. A brief history and additional speculative information.
This remnant of previous colonial times is a wooden hammock holder set into the mamposteria, “stacked stone”,
wall of a 16th century church at Uaymá near Valladolid in Yucatan. (Read about this interesting place and many
more in the fascinating book; Mayan Missions by Richard and Rosalind Perry.) Also visit our web-site at; www.
bicycleyucatan.com or our blog at http://bicycleyucatan.blogspot.com
Ironically the above ancient hammock holder still finds a use today as a belaying pin for the church-bell rope that
paradoxically is made of synthetic materials here in the heartland of henequen and sisal rope.
Hammocks were developed and employed in the Americas before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors and
continue to be made and used widely throughout Central and South America to this day.
Columbus brought hammocks back to Spain.
Hammock use was spread from the Caribbean Islands far and wide by the Chantal Maya of Tabasco, Mexico who
were renowned for their far-ranging maritime trading routes.
With their huge sea going trade canoes engaged in cargo carrying commerce the Chantal Maya transported salt,
rubber and cotton from Yucatan and cacao, quinine, sunflowers, peanuts, tomatoes, pineapples, tobacco squash,
beans, corn, gold, silver and slaves from as far away as Veracruz, Honduras and to the Caribbean Islands.
Hammocks and other manufactured trade items of the Maya became widely distributed with this commerce.
The Indians of Florida were said to have knowledge of the Maya.
Even in the post-classic period when the Yucatecan Maya were in decline due to a severe drought that peaked
around the mid-800s salt produced on the northern coast was a big demand item and that heavy cargo continued
to be a serious trade item. (Of course the draught only made sea- salt production better.)
The Indigenous Americans used hammocks not only for their comfort and dry, off the ground, hygienic attributes
but also as a barrier of protection against various crawling and slithering critters, some of which bit.
The Classic Maya of Yucatan perfected hammocks and made their finest from their own locally cultivated cotton.
The Yucatan cotton plant grows to over four meters in height and is a prolific producer with a long productive
season that requires many pickings.
Today the most comfortable Yucatecan hammocks use nylon strings for their end sections but cotton for the main
It has been said that the Yucatecan hammocks only arrived in Yucatan two-hundred years before the
conquistadors but no verifying documentation is available.
Hammock quality is a function of size…bigger is better and the number of strings is a factor. Your preference will
depend upon whether you prefer soft and yielding or slightly more firm as to what weave you will like best. This is
something that requires many hours of repose and serious contemplation, under a fan on the Yucatan.
The loose weave is more commodious especially in a smaller one kilo size.
A draw-back to the loose weave is that durability is sacrificed.
Mérida is unquestionably the capital city of the Yucatecan hammock, but definitely not the only place on the
peninsula engaged in hammock commerce.
Video: Weaving a hammock in Tixkokob, Yucatan