Did You Know Series: Guatemalan Artistry Traditions

Posted by Tory Jones on

When you look at an Ixchel Triangle bag, you can’t argue that the craftsmanship isn’t stunning. Everything from the handwoven, naturally dyed textiles, to the raw and untreated leather showcases the beauty of it's country of origin, Guatemala. 


Guatemala’s rich cultural heritage stretches back for centuries, and many of the same techniques and practices that began then, are still used today. According to legend, the Maya were taught to weave by the moon goddess and cosmic weaver, Ixchel. (our namesake!)


We believe that it is our responsibility to ensure our audience is educated on Guatemalan artistry, so that we can respect and honor the traditions that are shared with us.


Did you know…


The Backstrap Loom is One of the Most Unchanged Relics of Mayan Culture

traditional Mayan backstrap loom www.ixcheltriangle.com


The backstrap looms that are used by Mayan weavers today look almost identical to the ones depicted in Maya ceramics dating from A.D. 600 to 800. The loom is looped around the weaver herself, who is postured on the ground to achieve the right amount of tension for the threads. The other end is often tied to something stable like a tree or a post. Wooden dowels at the top and bottom of the loom hold the vertical threads, called the warp. A shuttle, or horizontal dowel, weaves the weft, or horizontal threads, through the fibers.

 

Each Village Has Their Own Weaving Style

Traditional Mayan Huipil www.ixcheltriangle.com

You can look at a weaving or huipil and know exactly where it was from. It’s beautiful to see women wearing their traditional traje and know what village they come from just by the huipil they wear.


For example, huipils from San Antonio Aguas Calientes are known for their unique style of weaving and brocading. The weaving will include very fine brocade with identical designs on both sides. Birds and flowers are prominently used and colors include a combination of blues and greens. 


On the other hand, the village of Coban is known for their use of very light cotton. Their huipils will likely be predominantly white with white woven symbols such as animals or birds. Additionally, the neckline is also usually embroidered with bright and vibrant flowers.


Weaving Can Take a Lifetime to Master

traditional Mayan weaving on a backstrap loom www.ixcheltriangle.com

Weavers start learning how to weave as young children. It truly takes years and years to become a master weaver. This art form is learned in the home through your parents and other family members. This is why it’s so important for weavers to make a livable wage from their work. Otherwise, they can’t continue to teach the next generation and this art form will die off.


Ixchel Triangle is committed to work solely with co-ops, not factories. We take pride in guaranteeing that every product is handmade by artists that are personally known. We believe in supporting our artists and their rich history. We guarantee a fair wage, good working conditions, and complete transparency. These commitments result in high quality products that customers can be proud to carry. Thank you for joining us on our mission!

Guatemalan Traditions Backstrap Loom www.ixcheltriangle.comwww.ixcheltriangle.com looking at Guatemalan artistry traditionstraditional Mayan backstrap loom www.ixcheltriangle.com

backstrap loom Guatemalan Artistry Guatemalan Traditions traditional weavings

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