Maya art weaving

Following the Maya culture is Ixchel the goddess of fertility, water and healing. She masters the art of weaving, which is still today a metaphor for birth and creation. In fact, the mayan designs and technique relate to the birth-weaving concept based on Ixchel’s myth. The maya indigenous associate the motion of the threads during the weaving process to the heart’s beating.  Instead represents the rocking back and forth of the weaver the contractions during birth.

Maya woman weaving

Maya woman weaving

The backstrap loom weaving itself is also a metaphor for the unity and infinity of the cosmos, being Ixchel’s whirling drop spindle said to be at the center of the motion of the Universe.

Goddess Ixchel

“It is said that the Mayan goddess Ixchel gave the art of weaving to her people”

Maya have been weaving for over two thousand years and their weavings have served as artistic expression of their cosmovision. The ancient art of weaving is still a key task in Guatemala. Furthermore,  craftwork is part of a Maya woman’s daily life. Weaving is considered an important social responsibilities as mothers pass on the art to their daughters.

ixchel

Women communicate their social identity as well as their individual artistic creativity through weavings. Maya women weave their personal history, ethnic identity and the design of their cosmovision  into their cloth.

In the highlands of Guatemala, on the shores of Lake Atitlan in a town called San Juan La Laguna, there are several Maya women weavers associations, who produce traditional textiles, such as bags, purses, scarves, hats, tablerunners, tablemats with the backstrap loom technique. But unlike other textiles made throughout the country, these weavers dye their fabrics with colors that nature provides.

Maya woman dyeing natural based

Maya woman dyeing natural based

They use different parts of a plant, such as stems, leaves, seeds, flowers, barks, obtaining a great variety of colors. They use 100% cotton to produce their threads and to prevent fading, this community uses a liquid from the banana bark to fix the colors. The whole process of dyeing and weaving one product might take up to 2 weeks, and even more, depending on the complexity of the design.

Aj’Kemaa Group (meaning “woman weaver” in maya language) is a community development project that seeks to integrate these weavers associations into one big group, in order to create synergies to expand their art and gain access to international markets. At the moment are sales limited to the local market. Only during tourism high season, the women manage to receive an income from selling their weaved products. However, sales are not sufficient to secure a livelihood.

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Aj’Kemaa is formed by 5 weavers associations of San Juan La Laguna town, and each association has an average of 20 members. Each member designs and produces weaved products and then delivers it to theAj’Kemaa association to be sold at local stores. These women seek to share their ancestral natural dyeing technique and art of weaving on looms to rescue the millennial tradition.

If you are interested in buying these products, please send us an e-mail: maya@mama-tierra.org. By buying these products, you will improve the quality of life of these maya families. Below are some pictures of the marvelous products they create.