Yucatán’s Iconic Hammocks Are Hanging in There

Hula’s latest line, black-and-white hammocks, provides a modern take on a traditional Mexican handicraft. Photo: Courtesy

The people who make and sell Yucatán hammocks struggle to stay in business, threatening the future of an iconic symbol of the region.

Marco Antonio Salazar Rosado, whose firm Hamacas el Aguacate has been making and selling hammocks in Yucatán for 60 years, said he and his peers are in danger of closing their doors. He asserted that a lack of organization in the marketplace, among other factors, is causing problems with both exports and domestic sales.

The hammock has been used since ancient times in Yucatán to sleep or rest. It has been used in different times and places and is made with different materials.

The origin of the hammock is traced to the native people of Central and South America, according to retailer lasiesta.com. The first hammocks were made ​​with the bark of the hamack tree. Christopher Columbus is said to have first encountered the hammock in the Bahamas, although they are thought to have originated in Puerto Rico. Columbus took the hammock with him back to Europe, where it caught on with sailors, who enjoyed how the boats rocked them to sleep.

Several of the hammocks sold by Señor Raymondo feature the logos of popular soccer teams in Mexico, which he says are particularly popular. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Yucatán hammocks, made with nylon or cotton, surged in popularity 25 years ago, but Salazar Rosado laments that “things have changed.”

“Exports have come down, and now hamaqueros rely heavily on sales in stores and on the amount of domestic and foreign visitors carry us to achieve our business,” he explains.

“We also face strong competition from hawkers who earn commissions for bringing tourists to buy from certain sites more dedicated to selling crafts than hammocks,” he said.

He said Yucatán hammocks “done well” cost an average of $400 pesos, with more ornamental designs costing up to $700 pesos. But prices vary widely depending on quality.

However, he continued, businesses such as Hamacas el Aguacate enforce the popular saying that “Yucatecan hammocks are the best in the world.”

But European tourists can return home and order hammocks from Denmark, saving on shipping costs. State and federal authorities should promote Yucatecan hammocks on the international market as superior and authentic, he said.

Even so, “there will always be those willing to continue manufacturing hammocks, as it is part of the history of our state, what we are and we live every day, so I think there will be Yucatecan hammocks for many more years,” said Salazar Rosado.

“With the heat that almost always is felt in Yucatan, it is always necessary to have a hammock.”

And it’s been proven that sleep is better in a hammock.

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