High above the mountains in the department of Sololá you can find Nahualá, a traditional town that celebrates the cultural heritage from the K’iche Mayans. This is where a small cooperative of ten weavers was founded in 2012 to provide economic opportunity for the women in the local community.
Backstrap weaving is an ideal technique for busy indigenous artisans. The equipment needed is light and extremely portable and can be set up almost anywhere. This is essential because most artisans balance various duties including raising children, maintaining the home, and earning a living through weaving.
The women in Nahualá engage in backstrap weaving, an art that has been passed down through generations. Weaving is considered the most important art form for K’iche’ women and they use the backstrap loom to weave symbols and images into textile patterns that tell stories that preserve and enhance their history and is an essential part of their community.
Hours go by as they count threads in the traditional vigesimal system and shuttle different coloured cotton through their looms to create different designs.
The women in the cooperative meet regularly at the home of one of their leaders to discuss new orders and designs and to further develop their skills. To complete a full textile takes around three days and all ten weavers in the cooperative work from home, allowing them to take care of their families and weave at the same time.
Weaving offers the women an opportunity to generate an additional income to support their families and they can weave in between managing their homes and taking care of their children.
The backstrap weaving technique doesn't require any electricity and the equipment is light and can be set up almost anywhere. This provides the artisans with flexibility to balance the demands of running a home and providing an income. The Parallel and Talea cushions are handmade by the women of Nahualá who will experience a direct impact from your purchase. This young group meets regularly at the home of their leaders to discuss new orders and designs, and to further develop their internal leadership structure. This cooperative has experienced positive impact since they began to work with our NPO partner in Guatemala, who provides fair trade employment to artisans and rigorously integrate the 10 Principles of Fair Trade into their work across their cooperatives, communities, partners, staff, and volunteers.