Following some pretty vague instructions that Kelsey shared, I dragged Ben off to a women's co-operative in a small village outside of San Cristobal de Las Casas yesterday, while returning from an excursion to San Juan Chamula and San Lorenzo Zinacantán. I think the directions were something like "get off in San Martín and walk to the right until you see the big white house." I must have been driven by my love for fashion, because I sniffed this place right out in a matter of minutes! After asking around, we found a young woman who led us right into the stock room of Jolom Mayaetik, where we were faced with thousands of georgously colored, woven textiles. Their work includes, shawls, tablecloths, placemats, cloth bags, tea towels, pillow covers, purses and more.
Translated as "Mayan Woman Weavers," Jolom Mayaetik is a co-op comprised of 250 women from 11 different communities in the Chiapan Highlands. Their work includes contemporary designs that incorporate traditional symbols and techniques. The majority of the women are trained in back-strap weaving, but some also embroider, use a pedal loom, and even sewing machines. Additionally they have organized themselves into a General Assembly to help make decisions within the co-op based on each community's needs. Being a co-op helps them to ensure that they receive fair prices for their goods and therefore betters the quality of their lives.
I agree with Kelsey in that many of the textiles here in Latin America, while very intricately made, are woven with colors that are not appealing to me. So of course, when I read about her findings, I was immediately interested in the dark purples and greens, with hints of turquoise that she described. Overwhelmed by all the choices we left with only a few pieces in hand, but after browsing the markets for the past few days, we're planning a return trip before leaving town.
If you're in San Cristobal and hope to check out this place, follow Kelsey's directions and keep in mind they are only open Monday-Friday, 9-3. Expect to pay prices higher than you see in markets, but it's quality work for a good cause. Cash only.
4 months ago