Making a Mayan Style Hammock

The Mayan style hammock is one of the oldest types in the world. It is believed to have originated in the Caribbean and then spread to the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico during the 13th century. Christopher Columbus introduced the hammock to the Europeans on one of his return voyages from the New World, and although the idea was a little slow to catch on, by the 17th century the Mayan style hammock had become highly popular throughout Europe. There are many features of the Mayan Hammock that set them apart from traditional hammocks. 

How They are Made.

Mayan hammocks have always been created on a loom. Because the design originally called for the bark of the Hamack tree to be used, it is believed the woven item earned its name "hammock."

Eventually, weavers began using the Sisal plant for weaving because the plant was readily available. Today, the Mayan hammock is still made on a loom but they are usually made from cotton or nylon. 

What Makes Them Different?

Mayan hammocks are quite different from traditional hammocks. The Mayan, as well as the Nicaraguan hammock, is made from a series of separate strings. They are woven together in a manner to provide support for the body. The more traditional hammock, or Brazilian hammock, is made from a single piece of cloth that is usually a type of strong canvass. 

There are advantages and disadvantages for both styles. The Mayan hammock is said to be far more comfortable to lie in and the individual strings are able to mold themselves to a person’s individual shape better than a piece of cloth. The elimination of the spreader bar that exists in the Brazilian style of hammock makes the Mayan hammock easier to fit into tight and hard-to-reach areas. The Brazilian hammock may be slightly less comfortable but is far stronger and more durable than a Mayan hammock. 


The traditional Mayan hammock can take up to 6 weeks to finish. Each hammock is as unique as a fingerprint--meaning that no 2 hammocks are exactly alike. Some of the smaller sized hammocks can be made in as few as 2 to 3 weeks but one must remember that this is based on a very short working day of around 3 hours. Keep in mind that these hammocks are woven by women and even today in the Yucatan peninsula, most women still remain at home to care for their family members. 


Even though Mayan hammocks are largely made by hand, there still are some quality signs to look for. Generally, the Mayan hammocks that are made for export are woven together quite loosely. This provides a greater degree of comfort but one has to keep in mind that the threads will stretch and snag at a much faster rate. On the flip-side, if the hammock is leaving wavy indentations on your skin it is too small or too tightly woven. 

Mayan hammocks are beautiful, unique, comfortable and can be long lasting.