Women in struggle in colour
By Andrew Jorgensen
Angelina working on her loom, while cooking beans and waiting for the men of the house, who are working on the coffee harvest.
Craftswomen, mothers, small farmers, housewives; selling their textiles (artesanía); dealing with a patriarchal society; in the shadow of the sweatshop (maquila), which devours tradition, and of misinformed customers haggling for treasures. Every day, in the highlands of Chiapas, you can see these women in struggle (luchadoras) in colour – leaning out the windows, or outside their homes of steaming wood – for hours embraced by the belt, with their looms-lovers in a sensual dance where magic brings to life the perfect frames of colour.
The harmony of the Mexican southeast includes natural landscapes of extraordinary beauty and a multicultural mosaic where peoples of Maya descent coexist, distinguished by their traditions. In the highlands of Chiapas there are people struggling to resist the onslaught of ambition and power, they move forward without losing the ancestral memory that gives them identity and distinguishes them as indigenous Mexicans.
The designs incorporated into their garments reflect the forces of creation and nature; they are the language through which they express their cosmovision, their beliefs, their own world. For them, their textiles are linked to the lunar divinity, childbirth, creation, the universe, animals and corn.
Textile crafts (artesanía) is one of the most important activities for the family economy in the highlands of Chiapas, many single women live almost exclusively from this and their cornfields. Their blouses (huipiles) are much more than the intrinsically beautiful products of long hours of work, but rather the ultimate condensation of knowledge transmitted through the generations from pre-Columbian times, an indelible mark of the cultural identity of a people.
Translated and posted by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity 15/06/2014