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Guatemalan Weaving - A Maya Tradition

The Maya traditional treadle loom is used to weave multi-purpose cotton fabric, corte fabric, scarves among other textiles. 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.

    
   
 

 

Videos of a Family Tradition:
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