All the colors of a Caribbean sea, pure turquoise, azure blue, and gleaming white sand. Intricate weave pattern, hand-loomed, of course, and naturally dyed with plant-based dyes.
Hand woven by indigenous Mayan artisans. These indigenous women producers, often at the very bottom of the economic ladder, are able to make a living wage to pay for school for their children (which in Guatemala is not free).
Artisan Exchange works with small weaving cooperatives in the Highlands of Guatemala above Lake Atitlan who still produce their beautiful products in the traditions of their ancestors, but often with a modern eye for design and color.
In Mayan history, weaving was a sacred art, carried on by generations of women. Since at least 3,000BCE, weaving has incorporated women’s prayers, spiritual longings and powerful medicine. Each village is distinguished by its different colors, mostly seen in the women’s dresses,blouses and hair ribbons. The entire region is vibrant with artistic production, color and natural beauty.
Cooperatives began forming a little over 10 years ago when crushing poverty and unemployment in the Highlands had driven many husbands to alcoholism. Women joined together to collectively produce their hand-made cloth and find markets for their work.With a little income, they were able to purchase shoes for their children (who had none) and afford school tuitions (school is not free as it is in North America).
Fair Trade partnerships with organizations like Artisan Exchange guarantee greater exposure in the marketplace resulting in the promise of a life-enhancing living wage for the weavers while preserving these ancient indigenous art forms.