Sunday, April 17, 2011

Semana Santa- Alfombras

Semana Santa, or Holy Week is a big deal in Guatemala. There are so many things that go into it, I won't even attempt to explain it all. (For that there's the book.)

One small, very colorful part of Semana Santa are the "alfombras" or "carpets" that the people create for the processions to go over. These carpets are usually made out of colored saw dust, but, no one hesitates to throw some creativity in there and the results can be anything!

Some alfombras are made entirely out of colored sawdust, with stencil like molds creating intricate designs on top of bright colors. Images of the pope, Bible figures or scriptures are as common as pictures of Mayan people, political leaders, flowers, detailed scroll work or typical Mayan patterns.

There is one place in Antigua that invites people to come and create an alfombra out of vegetables. I'm not sure how the procession avoids tripping or twisting their ankles on things such as radishes, but the resulting alfombra is a work of culinary art.

Alfombras can also include all sorts of accessories to add to the decoration. I have seen candles, figurines and even fountains in the middle of alfombras. Since the purpose of alfombras is for the procession, these decorations must be removed before the procession actually walks through it.

Some alfombras get a little 3D, like these banana dolphins captured by Guatemalan Genes. Or this cute Parrot made from fruit:

Or this lizard crafted from bread:

A more fragrant option are the alfombras made from a variety of flowers. I have seen some made entirely of different colored roses and others with every flower imaginable.

However fun and festive alfombras might be, all of the effort goes into ultimately making the procession a success. After the procession, this is a common sight:

All photos property of L.S. who was nice enough to let me use them. For a million more examples, try this google image search or flicker link.


  1. Looking forward to seeing this soon!

  2. What wonderful photos of such colorful creativity.

    very inspiring.