Weekly Photo Challenge: From Plain Cotton to an Ornate Weaving

The Weekly Photo Challenge is Ornate.

How does one transform plain cotton into an elegant work of art? The answer is simple if you are an indigenous Mayan weaver. Weaving colorful cotton fabric was an art form among high-ranking ancient Mayan women. Today, weaving is a daily part of Mayan women’s lives as they pass down their skills from generation to generation and sell their ornate woven products through women’s cooperatives in Guatemala.

We visited the San Pedro Women’s Weaving Cooperative in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala where we were taught the process of transforming this…
IMG_0948into this…the traditional elaborate Mayan women’s clothing.

Once the cotton is spun and twisted into threads, how does it transform from dull white to a magnificent array of colors?

IMG_0964The secret is found in the natural dyes of many flowery plants, minerals, and an insect.

IMG_0959Click on each photo to see the type of natural dye that was used.

Backstrap weaving is practiced by many of the artisans in the highlands of Guatemala. The finished products are dazzling masterpieces.

The Story of Maya Tradition’s Backstrap Woven Products

IMG_0961Mayan women traditionally wear traje, which is a combination of a skillfully woven multicolored blouse called a huipil, and a corte, a woven wraparound skirt that reaches to the ankles. The blouse and skirt are held together at the waist with a woven sash called a faja.

Each traje is a statement of her cultural and personal identity. Each village has its own style of weaving and dress, so you can usually tell which village a woman is from by the style of her elegant traje.

It is likely to take several months for a woman to weave her traje, by weaving 3-4 hours each day among her other tasks.

From plain to ornate! What an amazing tradition!


18 thoughts on “Weekly Photo Challenge: From Plain Cotton to an Ornate Weaving

  1. Hello guy! I’m super exited to find out this post googling, lol. I really appreciate this beautiful work of the person who had and took his or her time to writing down and explaining about our culture. Actually I’m the maneger of thes Cooperative, if some of you wants to follow us on Facebook and see more about the story, culture, life and other interesting topic about our amazing GUATEMALA please like our page on: Lake Atitlan Women Weavers Cooperatiave, and in this way we can launch up our products and keep giving opportunities to Indigenous People and specificly singles mother, let follow us and find out the whole story of this Coope.
    Thanks a lot Rewired and Retired in Nicaragua


  2. One of the highlights of our time in Guatemala was admiring the beautiful traditional skirts and heavily embroidered blouses that so many of the women wore and learning about the weaving process. Lago Atitlan has some amazing women’s cooperatives and I loved your photos explaining the process from cotton to wearable art. Anita

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