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Between every thread a story is told

21 Apr, 2021

Guatemala is a meeting of various corners that many of us do not know because of the speed with which the capital city moves makes us lose sight of many things. So great is the abyss that the Ruk’u’x Festival is already on its fifth celebration. This festival consists of highlighting the art and diversity of the native peoples and not only of Guatemala, but of all Latin America.

Hellen Quiná says that, in this festival, in addition to exhibiting the arts that we all know, she also dedicates herself to exalting the art that we do not know, such as the art of weaving with the technique of the backstrap loom.

In addition, the Ixchel Museum of Indigenous Costume, in 2018 created a workshop, which consists of teaching the art of weaving on a backstrap loom.

What is a Backstrap loom?

In a few words, it is the indigenous artisan way to weave its costumes. It is made up of 4 or more sticks that are supported by threads and is tied to the weaver's waist.

The parts of the backstrap loom go beyond calling them "sticks." It is armed by approximately 13 parts. It is made up of a string that usually has a “Y” shape. By a crossover cord that works to maintain order between the threads. The roll of the drag, in places like Jacaltenango, is used to being made of bamboo or hollow reed.

There is even a book that explains the waist loom in more detail, especially the one found in Jacaltenango. This book is on the blog called Carolventura.com.

This loom allows the weaver to express herself freely and leave a whole story. Since, as we already know, the huipiles tell us stories. Through the process of weaving on the backstrap loom, they shape their place of origin, family, social position, among other.

On the page of “Cultura , lenguas y literatura de America Latina” it is mentioned that "since the classical period in Mayan culture, looms have been a fundamental part in the lives of the inhabitants." He goes on to explain that "The imposition of Spanish culture brought with it [...] a hybrid culture, which in the case of Guatemalan textiles resulted in a very rich fusion between Mayan geometric figures with the figurative images that Spanish women brought".

Why are only weavers known?

According to the aforementioned page, Cultures, Languages ​​and Literature of Latin America, and as I said previously, is the way in which they express themselves, it is considered a form of resistance. This happens, first, because a silenced indigenous culture has been created, accustomed to going head down and that is when it becomes resistance.

So, what may be happening is narrated and embodied in a cloth that can even be inherited. In each thread there is a letter, each figure a word, each color a sign to express. Therefore, talking only about the backstrap loom, as already done, falls too short to what becomes the final product.

For the same reason, the final result looks beautiful, but, surely, we have rarely asked ourselves the feeling with which it was made, in what conditions was the weaver, what will have been the intentions to weave what is seen. You can talk about “loom translators” because it ends up being a whole new language.

Sometimes we can find ladies weaving in Antigua Guatemala. And It is at this moment that a person reflects on the work that involves wearing a colorful and handmade fabric.

Guatemala is that range of languages ​​known and established in different parts of the country, but this art has begun to be forgotten, this language that is displayed in each body, the lost secrets and a whole history that we usually ignore.

Textiles are woven thread by thread, going down and up, running it to form a figure so that we can get closer to the hidden story. Well, for all those who have the joy of trying on a final fabric they can feel a part of a story that has not been deciphered. The weaver told something in each thread. She opened herself on that loom, she expressed herself as a weaver.