by Hilary Kilpatric
Mayan Weavers is a group of four hardworking women from the Highlands of Guatemala who have over 100 years of combined experience. They work using both the back-strap loom and the foot pedal loom, depending on what they are weaving.
When asked what she likes about her craft, Lidia, one of the group’s leaders, remarked, “My favorite part is when I am done with a weaving, and I can see the finished product. I feel proud to be able to say, ‘I made that with my own two hands!’ ”
Mayan Weavers generally dedicates itself to crafting placemats and table runners. It started out using only traditional Kakchiquel designs, but now has adapted to the market and learned to weave more contemporary pieces.
As for challenges, Lidia shares, “The hardest part of my craft is when someone gives me a drawing or picture of a fabric they want, and I have to replicate it in a weaving,” and adds, “Still, I enjoy the challenge.”
Lidia explained, “My mother taught me to weave when I was 12 years old. Since then I dedicated myself to weaving because all Kakchiquel women must know how to weave. I am now 60 years old and when I was growing up females were not sent to school. Weaving was seen as the only respectable way for a female to earn a living.”
Lidia lives with her son and her mother in the village where she was born. She is an amazing innovative weaver and pillar of her community.
When asked about her dreams, Lidia said, “I am very happy with my work and proud of myself, because through my weavings I have been able to improve my life and take care of my son. I dream of having steady work and saving enough money to travel and get to know new places.”