Mayan Hammocks

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The authentic Mayan hammocks are hand woven in Yucatan, Mexico using cotton or nylon thread.

It is not known for sure when and where hammocks were invented, but most of the existing information leads to think they were first made by the Mayan culture established in the Yucatan Peninsula and Central America around 1000 years ago.

The earliest hammocks were made of tree bark which was later replaced by sisal thread, a more abundant and softer fiber.

The use of hammocks soon spread to every warm weather region of the continent due to the active business relationships between Central and South American ancient cultures.

Hammocks were introduced to Europe by Columbus and became popular with French and British seamen who used them as an alternative to the uncomfortable and dangerous beds on board.

Hammocks have been cotton woven for the last 60 years, and the use of nylon goes back around 30 years.

Mayan hammock

Mayan Hammocks Making Process
Mayan hammocks are still made the same way early Mayan used to make them; the individual threads are not tied in a knot but simply crossed against each other making the hammock not only extraordinarily comfortable since the woven net adapts to the body but highly resistant because the body weight is evenly distributed across the hammock surface.

Mayan hammocks are hand woven in a loom that has two polls, one in front of the other, united with two battens that are adjusted to the desired hammock length. The weaver (often a woman) rolls the thread in a wooden needle called lanzadera (shuttle) and then goes from one poll to the other weaving as she walks and all over again until the hammock's body is finished.

Next the threads that will make the arms of the hammock, at which end will be the loops where the hammock is hanged from, are woven into the edges of the hammock's body.

weaving mayan hammock

Nylon Versus Cotton
Nowadays Mayan hammocks are made from cotton and nylon threads; cotton hammocks are more comfortable, but they are vulnerable to humidity.

Nylon hammocks are durable and resistant, but they are not as comfortable as the cotton ones. They are not prone to mildew and can be washed with strong soaps.

To clean out a nylon hammock, immerse it in a bucket full of soapy water for 8 hours, remove water residue from the hammock and hang it to dry with a stick across it.

Both kinds are sensitive to sunlight which fades their colors.

Different Sizes
Mayan hammocks size is measured by the number of thread coils used in their weaving ranging from one to seven. The smallest size available is the baby hammock while the largest hammock can accommodate three to four people laying transversally.

Other Hammock Styles
  • Spreader Bar Hammock
    Also known as American hammock, it has wooden bars at its ends spreading its width and allowing easy access for recreational use. The spreader bars make the hammock unstable and unsafe to sleep in.

  • spreader bar hammock

  • Nicaraguan Hammock
    They are similar to the Mayan, but the weaving is tighter and they have crochet knitted ornaments on the sides. Nicaraguan hammocks are often adapted to the spreader bar system due to its popularity with American tourists.

  • nicaraguan hammock

  • Brazilian Hammock
    The Brazilian hammocks are made from cotton fabric and are more durable than the woven ones but not as comfortable.

  • brazilian hammock

  • Jungle Hammock
    They are made of nylon or polyester and non stretch suspension lines. The user must sleep along the length of the hammock rather than across it. With breathable false bottom, drip strings and sandfly netting they are the safest hammocks to use in the jungle.

  • jungle hammock

  • Travel or Camping Hammock
    Are made of durable nylon fabrics, some feature mosquito nets and storage pockets. They are light to carry and easy to set.

  • camping hammock

Hammock Tips

The best way to lie in a hammock is across it:

how to lay on a hammock

And last but not least, here is how to hang a hammock properly:

how to hang a hammock

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