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Hammocks: How to enjoy Yucatán’s specialty

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Hammocks: How to enjoy Yucatán’s specialty
Hammocks in Yucatán. Photo: Cielo Hammocks.

Buying a Yucatecan hammock is a rite of passage. Once we get the logistics down, meaning how to properly law down and enjoy them, their structure and material can make them far superior to a bed, especially in warmer weather

Mérida has become the capital for high-quality hammocks, but just what makes them so special?

Detail, grey hammock
Detail of a cotton Yucatecan hammock. Photo: Cielo Hammocks.

First, Mayan hammocks don’t have wooden cross supports, so the weave of the fabric molds to the body giving a firm hold. The secret of the weight they can support, from 100 to 300 Kgs, is found precisely in the weave of the fabric. The weft has no knots, and all the threads communicate, which allows the weight to be distributed over the entire surface of the mesh without creating tension points.

Hammocks are very wide, so you can lie diagonally or transversely, keeping your back straight and protected, the ideal sleeping posture as demonstrated by Mayan culture for hundreds of years.

People lying down in colorful hammocks.
Colorful hammocks in a terrace. Photo: Cielo Hammocks.

Once you’ve enjoyed them, it’s hard to say goodbye.

Constantino, from Cielo Hamacas, started sharing this tradition in Florida after 9/11. “There were no jobs for foreigners at that time, but I thought hammocks would fit nicely with Florida.” He started importing them from a small town in Yucatán and quickly started growing into a larger operation. After his success, he came back to México and started searching for artisans, materials, and techniques, both in-state and other parts of the world.

He imported materials from South America, Asia, and the United States, finding high-quality cotton as well as durable options for outdoor hammocks. Their materials, along with the technique used in Yucatán, are the secrets behind their quality. “There is nothing like a hand-woven hammock, with a technique as ancient as ours.”

Artisan weaving a hammock.
An artisan weaving a hammock. Photo: Cielo Hammocks.

To make one, a wooden frame is made with two poles adjusted to fit the size of the hammock’s body. The artisan winds the thread on a wooden needle called a shuttle and begins by stretching about 15 to 30 threads from one pole to the other. They then intertwine and wrap the thread around each pole, turning around and starting a new line.

Although one of the most common uses for hammocks is sleeping, they can also be made for external use, as well as smaller models such as swings and rocking chairs. Their installation is rather simple, needing hooks on opponent walls and metal “s’s”, sold in hardware and local household stores. In short, they’re a mandatory component of any Yucatecan home.

Going on the quest for our perfect hammock can bring us to passionate creators highlighting the beauty of Yucatan’s traditions. Dare to find yours, and enjoy the quest while you do.