Excerpt from an article in Handwoven and Interweave magazines featuring Yabal Handicrafts:
Weaving New Lives and Bringing New Hope
Mayan women say that the goddess Ixchel taught their people to weave at the dawn of time. Through millennia of struggle between rival groups, through the founding of a dynasty that ruled in Quauhtemallan in the fifteenth century, through the coming of the Spanish, they wove to clothe themselves in the beautiful huipiles (blouses) and cortes (skirts) that told the stories of their families and communities. Now weaving is bringing new hope after modern struggles.
As the armed conflict raged in Guatemala from 1960 to 1996, tearing apart families and widowing the women, Mayan women wove on. Then in 2005, mudslides from Hurricane Stan destroyed the coastal communities of Pacutama and Chuicutama. The residents had to flee from their farmlands and climb to almost 10,000 feet above sea level to resettle in the highlands of Santa Catarina Ixtahuacan, an area known locally as “Little Alaska” because of its cold climate. For these communities and for others affected by decades of civil war, weaving is now not only for clothing but for feeding their families, and it is building a better future through an organization named Y’abal.
Tradition to Trade
In the Mayan’s native K’iche’, the word y’abal means “hope,” and that is what these weavers now have. The social enterprise, founded by a Belgian woman living in Guatemala, first brought food, medicine, and temporary housing to the displaced communities in the aftermath of Hurricane Stan. But having lost the land… continue reading