Women in Guatemala have passed down the process of traditional weaving from generation to generation. Nowadays, many women still wear their traditional clothing, consisting of colorful patterns that highlight the beauty of their intricate designs and the Mayan heritage of the country.
Handcrafted textiles are woven using two traditional methods, the back strap loom and the foot loom. The huipil or blouse is woven using a traditional back strap loom and the corte or skirt is woven by a large foot loom, usually by men, as the process requires more strength.
(Traditional Huipil and Corte, from Concepción; picture taken from here)
Did you know that the woven patterns that women wear are village-specific? This is something that was actually implemented by the government during the civil war, to keep track of people´s movement. Nowadays women are starting to wear huipiles from other villages, depending on their fashion sense more than physical location.
(Back Strap Loom)
With women being the key to the progress of their communities, maintaining the traditional artisan work alive has become a way to empower female indigenous weavers and generate steady income that will help break the cycle of poverty their families live in. Some local nonprofits, such as the Maya Traditions Foundation, are already doing a wonderful job at creating opportunities around the weaving culture of Guatemala.
The internet, especially the e-commerce revolution, has provided an international market for these traditionally woven pieces, which can open a window of opportunities to generate fair-paid sustainable employment to traditional weavers. Lydali is happy to contribute to this growing global commerce by sharing stories and bringing some of these products and producers to the modern online market.