This large wall hanging highlights the intricacies and details possible with brocade backstrap weaving. This style of weaving serves as the base for many of the huipiles (blouses) traditionally worn by indigenous Maya women. Their internationally renowned weaving skills tell a story through color and patterns of a tradition passed down through generations. Many of the figures and designs featured in the brocade weaving are associated with ancient Maya legends and beliefs.
A nonprofit organization located in Panajachel, a small town on Lake Atitlan in the western highlands of Guatemala, is dedicated to connecting 120 indigenous artisans from the surrounding area to international markets. Through Fair Trade programs, they empower women artisans, their families, and their communities to strengthen their entrepreneurial ecosystems. The foundation leverages traditional Maya heritage and art to rescue, preserve and promote the ancestral culture of the highland artisans with a focus on backstrap weaving. By earning a fair price for their work, the artisans are able to provide sustenance, medical care and education to their children and contribute economically in their communities.
The textiles are entirely produced on traditional backstrap looms, which have been in use since the time of the Maya empire. This highly specialized weaving technique has been passed down from grandmother to mother and mother to daughter for hundreds of generations and produces intricate, durable textiles. This technique is time consuming but also very versatile and can be used to create fabrics light or heavy, smooth or textured, with endless color combinations and ikat designs.