Saturday, November 28, 2009

Panabaj, Santiago Atitlan, 11-25

Let me back track a bit. On the day before Thanksgiving, we visited a group in Panabaj that weaves on a backstrap loom (oh yes pictures would help here, but imagine the weaver strapping the loom around her waist, attaching it to a post and kneeling on a palm mat to do her work).

They make the Children of the World products, woven with beautiful colors with impeccable technique.

We met at the home of the leader of the group Maria Victoria. Panabaj is located minutes away from the town of Santiago Atitlan, one of the villages along the magnificent Lago Atitlan. As we crossed from Panajachel in a launch, we could see all the volcanoes around the lake, the fisherman out in boats and the terrible algal bloom of coliform bacteria that has been caused by sewage flowing directly into the lake since Hurrican Stan in 2005.

The women not only make these products they clothe themselves in a woven traje that includes a shirt, huipil and a skirt, corte. Each village has a traditional style of weaving, a color scheme, and symbols that have significance in the Mayan cosmology. In these villages birds are particularly important... We could see them, from herons to kingfishers, all along the shoreline.

Their huipiles are covered with birds. Embroidered, woven... The birds have flown right onto the cloth. Just as I suspected. There is a surfeit of beauty here amongst all the difficulty.

Thanks for reading. Today we go to Chichicastenango to visit Juana (the Mayan Hands fieldworker) who has also been involved in her own project making paper and teaching women to paint using acrylics. This should be really interesting.

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