Considered a cultural and economic essential throughout Mexico, the Mayan hammock was first developed almost a thousand years ago in the Caribbean and brought to the Yucatan peninsula by Spanish colonists. Initially made from woven tree bark and natural fibers, hammocks were airy in the humid climate, elevated from insects and critters on the ground below, and easily transportable; they offered a pragmatic and comfortable way to sleep.
Adapted by the Maya, hammocks soon came to be crafted from henequen, the agave-derived fiber that made the Yucatan famous for rope production and was once our own primary product here at Hacienda Petac.
Still made predominantly in the city of Mérida, the capital of the Yucatan, hammock production accounts for a major source of income for the entire region, and is, in fact, second only to tourism. The practicality of the hammock’s design and the durability of the product – many hammocks are now made from cotton or even nylon – make them a staple in most homes in the area. Even the most majestic Yucatecan homes feature hammocks for elegant relaxation.
As both a domestic object and one very popular with travelers, hammocks have become a canvas with which to demonstrate Mayan artistry, color palettes and designs. Hammock making is a proud trade, a family specialty, and, as most are still handmade, no two hammocks are ever exactly alike. Many still feature the original sprang-woven pattern, with interlocking parallel threads that are static in one direction but elastic in the other so that the hammock fibers hug the contours of the body.
In 2011, a Swiss research team published a study positing that the swinging motion of a hammock helps synchronize our brain waves, which makes us fall asleep faster and, in fact, achieve a deeper state of sleep and calm. Here at Hacienda Petac, we haven’t done any official research on the subject, but we can attest to just how lovely an afternoon spent lounging in one of our poolside hammocks is. You bring your favorite book; we’ll supply your favorite cocktail. Let the leisure ensue.