|The Story of the Textiles from Guatemala
|My first purchases of Guatemalan textiles were from refugees fleeing their country's civil war and taking refuge in Mexico, where I was living in 1985-86. I traveled to Guatemala in the fall of 1986, when the civil war was contained enough to make it safe to take adult study groups to the country. I had appreciated the textiles as finely crafted works of art, but it was an incredible gift to see whole villages of Mayan women wearing them. Some of the men were also wearing “traje,” or the traditional dress they had worn for about 500 years. I came to understand the patterns in the weavings reflect important symbols in Mayan belief systems.
|As I continued to take study groups to
Guatemala, I purchased textiles directly from the weavers or from cooperatives.
The prices paid did not reflect the hours and hours of work women put into
weaving these items, mostly on back-strap looms tied to a post or roof
beam in their family's patio. Many of the women selling textiles had been
widowed during the civil war and weaving was their only way to support
By 1988 I moved to Guatemala City to set up programs there full-time. My mother and father, Carolyn and John Cain, joined me for Christmas that year. We traveled to the regions where these textiles come from: rugged mountains, lush vegetation during rainy season, little adobe houses scattered among corn fields on the mountainsides, beautiful textiles at every turn, including those spread over the bushes to dry after being washed in the streams and at community wash basins.
|On my most recent trip to Guatemala a
year ago, I was very saddened to see that very few girls in the rural areas
were wearing traditional dress. The civil war has ended, but the poverty
that caused it has not been addressed. The women can no longer afford to
weave for the family, but instead weave items to sell to tourists, often
with lesser quality materials and simpler patterns. Most sell to
intermediaries because they do not have access to markets. A few
participate in fair trade programs, through which they get a fairer price
for their work.
We hope you enjoy these creations that reflect the artistry and wisdom of strong Mayan women, and we hope for the day when economic conditions allow them to again weave their stories through their clothing.
|Ruth Knight Sybers
Monticello, WI 53570
www.209main.com - Textiles - current and past exhibits at The Dining Room at 209 Main
email@example.com - to join e-mail list for announcements of knitting workshops/new exhibits at The Dining Room at 209 Main
firstname.lastname@example.org - to order patterns, books, Vivian Hoxbro kits, yarn, etc.
Vivian Hoxbro Workshops - October 14, 15,
David Braunschweig who assists in "hanging" each exhibit.
Photos by Lori Manning
Copyright © 2008.
The Dining Room at 209 Main
NANCY L. DAVIS & JOANNE SCHILLING - TEXTILE ARTISTS
MARY JO SCANDIN - Fiber and contemporary painting
FULLING AND FELTING
Nostalgia - Apron Collection by Jean Adler
TEN YEARS OF TEXTILE EXHIBITS - Ruth Knight Sybers
SILVER THREADS -- Lee Ann Kleeman
Point of View: thread-work by Beth Blahut
Hooked Rugs by Ellie Beck
JOYCE MARQUESS CAREY
First Knitting Invitational
Weaving and the Structo Loom
Valentina Devine Creates
JAPANESE TEXTILES -- OLD AND NEW
Men Who Knit
Quilts by the Thursday Friends
WEAVING WITH SEWING THREAD
HISTORIC MONTICELLO WOOLEN MILL
Katherine Pence Inspired by Everything
WHY DO I SPIN?
THE EARLY KNITTED WORKS OF JOYCE WILLIAMS
EMBROIDERY - the late Ellen Scheidler
QUILTS OF MONTICELLO
23 HATS BY ESTHER AND OLGA
FROM GRANDMA'S TRUNK
JEAN NORDLUND - Ewe Hues
NAVAJO RUGS Weavings - Fran Potter
FIRST SHOW: Knitting - Ruth Sybers, Wall hanging - Kathy LaBeil