MUJERES TEJEDORAS DE ZINACATAN
Zinacatan is locate and southern part of the Central Chiapas highlands, this is a community that is well knowledge for the textile tradition, a lot of tourists visit this community every year. This group is composed of 15 women, all of them are family, sisters, cousin, daughters, most of them are single or single mothers. They do hand-woven in back loom strap and embroider, they speak Tzotzil (a Mayan language) and Spanish, the older women only speak Tzotzil, they call to their group “Mujeres tejedoras de Zinacatan “, “Union women” or “Women together”, I think that will be the translation. The handcraft are their principal activity for living, they learn to woven in the backstrap loom since they are little child, they made their own fabrics and cloths. This is something that has been passed from generation to generation. They use colorful acrylic and cotton threads to create the fabrics and the embroidery. The textiles that they make are very special, full of colors, and with the embroidery they represent the traditions, vegetation and wildlife of the area; flowers, animals, exotics birds, run through the textile filling them of stories full of color and tradition.
They work together in an open area like a patio; they sale their items outside of their houses to the tourist that visit the town. They start early in the morning and stop when the sun is gone. This area is near to the jungle, and close the Pacific ocean, rain a lot, mostly in the Huracan season, then they can’t wove, the thread is affected by moisture provoke them difficult to work, as well, they can’t go out to weave; but it doesn’t mean that they stop, then they use this time to embroider the fabrics that are done, and when is a good weather they go out to weave again.
To have an idea the time that take produce one item, the table runner with birds and flower it’s take about month and a half to make one piece; first, they weave the fabric, after they draw on top and do the hand embroidered, there are another pieces that for the detail of the embroidered and size it takes 3 months or more to produce.
Usually the artisans of the town, has to offer to the tourist’s guide a commission in order that they stop at their houses, is this way the tourist can see what their produce and buy, this commissions has been increasing for the competition between them to sell their products, obviously this decline in profit they might have.
The quality of this particular group of women is delightful; every year they are invited to present their pieces in a museum of Chicago USA and fairs in different towns in Mexico.