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For over 10 years Maya Traditions has worked with Maya indigenous weavers in the highlands of Guatemala. Working with more than 100 Maya women in five established groups in rural villages, Maya Traditions promotes women who do backstrap weaving—an ancient traditional art that women can do from their homes while caring for their families— as well as crochet artisans, footloom weavers and other small family artisan businesses.
For a typical Maya woman, weaving is a ritual part of her daily life. After doing family chores before dawn, she unrolls and connects her loom. She sits, strapping the loom around her waist, and weaves 3 or 4 hours until she prepares lunch for her family, then weaves another 3 or more hours until sunset. To weave a traditional huipil blouse may involve two or three months of this daily ritual.
Linguistically differentiated by as many as twenty languages, the Mayans share a common bond through their weaving heritage. Many aspects of Maya Culture are communicated by costume or “traje.” It is a true art form where a woman shows her artistry and level of commitment to cultural identity. At the heart of Maya Traditions’ efforts is the improvement of the quality of life. Many people in the area are faced with poverty and lack basic services. As a member of the Fair Trade Federation, Maya Traditions ensures the artisans are paid a fair price for their products, and has established programs to help artisans with health care and education for their children.