3.08.2010

Guatemalan Fabric

Guatemalan fabric is completely hand woven of hand-dyed cotton on a traditional treadle loom. The loom is foot powered and no electricity is used whatsoever. The entire weaving process is completed in the homes of many different Maya people from several villages in the Guatemalan highlands in the departments of Solola and Quetzaltenango, thus making this a 'cottage industry'. Little Mango Imports believes only in 'Fair Trade' and because we deal directly with the weavers we are assured they are being paid a fair wage for their work. Most of our fabrics contain jaspe (ikat) design work. This is a common element of many Guatemalan fabrics and an art form in itself. It involves the binding and dyeing of yarns prior to weaving to produce patterns with blurred edges.

Maya Treadle Loom
The Maya traditional treadle loom is used to weave multi-purpose cotton fabric, corte fabric, scarves among other textiles (narrow, scarf fabric is depicted in images). Introduced by the Spanish and traditionally operated by men, the loom is foot powered and no electricity is used whatsoever. Textiles woven on a treadle loom are regularly referred to as "machine made" by the Maya people. The implication of this claim that the process is similar to that involving a modern electric machine is deceiving.

The tense warp threads are alternately lifted and lowered with the use of foot pedals; meanwhile, the weaver passes the weft between the warp threads. Hand woven fabric often contains jaspe (ikat) design work. This is a common element of many Guatemalan fabrics and an art form in itself. It involves the binding and dyeing of yarns prior to weaving to produce patterns with blurred edges.
In contrast with the treadle loom, the Maya back strap loom utilizes a simpler technology and is mobile; however, the weaving process is more time consuming. Typically operated by women, the backstrap loom is used to weave huipiles, among other textiles.

Juan Sic and his family (pictured below along with me, Whitney Taylor) weave the beautiful Guatemalan fabric available for purchase at Little Mango Imports: http://www.littlemangoimports.com/guatemalanfabric.html


Weaving Process Photographs

Weaving Process Videos

Fabric Care Instructions

Guatemalan Fabric - available for purchase by the yard

1 comment:

  1. Nice post! So much to learn! I can tell that these fabrics are really high quality and am so pleased to have found you! Keep up the good work!

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