The finest clothing made is a person’s own skin, but, of course, society demands more than this. – Mark Twain
The practice of backstrap loom weaving of Mayan women in the highlands of Guatemala, is an exceptional art and a distinctive part of their culture long before the conquest of the Spaniards. Through weaving, the Mayans communicate their personal identity, their heritage and their ideological beliefs. Every design, colors and patterns convey a story of the Mayan culture. One of the most important associations that weaving has to the supernatural is its association with the deities, primarily the moon goddess Ixchel. Believed to have invented weaving, she was the patron of conception, childbirth, medicine, and reproduction.
Mayan women keep the art of weaving, they have advance knowledge in weaving and struggles to keep the art. This is why Guatemala woman is considered to be an artist. For them, it is important that when they see a weaver’s product that they see the inspiration of the ancestors, the strength of a great culture.
The art and tradition of weaving is passed from one generation to another. Many afternoons, the girls in the community gets together in the shade of a huge tree and do their weaving. They talk and weave, and grandmothers sometimes join them to tell stories.
Today, weaving has become a great source of income of both households and villages. Oftentimes, young girls learn to weave before going to school. Even though cultural contact has influenced many of the techniques and materials used in weaving, it has not eliminated the ancestral cosmology and symbolism still found in weaving throughout Guatemala. Weaving, an exceptional art that conveys the strength of a great culture.
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