Posts Tagged ‘Guatemalan textiles’

Book: Traditional Weavers of Guatemala

Monday, December 7th, 2015

As a gift to myself, I bought Traditional Weavers of Guatemala by Deborah Chandler, long-time resident of Guatemala, former director of Mayan Hands, and all-around expert on weaving. The book is as gorgeous as you would expect, with stunning photos and fascinating stories of individual artisans. Just a thought around holiday time, in case you know someone obsessed with textiles.

Here’s the description from Amazon:

Against the backdrop of Guatemala, this book presents portraits of artisans working in the ancient traditions of the Maya paired with insights into the creation of the textiles and the events that have affected their work. Weaving, spinning, and basket making have sustained the Maya economically and culturally against the pressures of change and a 36-year civil war that decimated their population. Their persistence in continuing traditional art has created some of the loveliest, most colorful textiles the world has ever known. Artisans share their personal histories, hopes, and dreams along with the products of their hands and looms. Their stories show determination in the face of unimaginable loss and hardship which instill an appreciation for the textiles themselves and for the strong people who create them.


Museo Casa del Tejido

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

Behind the municipal Mercado in Antigua is the small, family-run Museo Casa del Tejido, a sumptuous collection of hand-made textiles from every department of Guatemala. Technically, the address is First Calle Poniente no. 51, but you’re better off finding it by going to the top of Santa Lucia near the ruins of La Recoleccion and walking straight back. The admission is not too much, and for a small fee, they’ll let you take pictures. Our guide spoke English fluently and taught us a lot.

Don’t go in expecting sealed cases and precious pieces protected from light and dust. This isn’t that kind of museum. Here, the traje of embroidered blouses and woven skirts are hung on rods or simply nailed to the wall, often approximating the figure of a person who might wear it. A stroll through the galleries impresses anyway, especially for anyone who loves textiles. Each weaving and embroidery is a unique balance of composition and color and story, beautiful in its own way.

If you visit Antigua, particularly with your children, schedule time for the Casa del Tejido. Afterwards, meander through the market for a perfect half-day.


San Antonio Aguas Calientes

Friday, August 20th, 2010

Yesterday, Olivia and I took a bus trip with a group to the nearby pueblo of San Antonio Aguas Calientes, a town renowned throughout Guatemala for the beauty of its weavings. I felt like a prospector who has struck gold: here we were at last, the motherlode. We visited a women’s cooperative, founded some twenty years ago to benefit the education of local children. (I think; everything was said in Spanish and, as usual, I struggled to keep up.)

The senora pictured above (wearing her distinctive huipil) gave a presentation about weddings as practiced by the indigenous in San Antonio, dressing four members of our group in traditional traje. The woman third from the left represented the groom’s mother. The beautiful weaving draped around her shoulders took hours of effort over a year to make—a gift from the bride. In return, the mother-in-law will give the bride a special frilly apron, lovely to be sure, but still, an apron. A lively discussion ensued—What about girls who can’t weave? Does the bride have any say in her choice of groom?—after which we enjoyed the Guatemalan national dish, pepian, with time left over for shopping.

I took the final photo at Antigua’s premier hotel, Casa Santo Domingo, which Olivia and I visited a few days earlier with Kallie and Maya. The ruins behind the hotel were set up for an evening wedding. As we left the site, the wedding party had arrived from the capital, everyone dressed in stunning and stylish finery. A different setting and ceremony from the one in San Antonio Aguas Calientes, but each a celebration.