The biggest threat that the Mayans, the indigenous women of Guatemala, are facing right now is ‘exclusion’ from society due to rising discrimination. This is what 33-year-old Rosalia, an associate artisan at Teixchel feels.
Teixchel is a sustainable weaving association that aims to empower women and indigenous people.
While talking about the atrocities faced by the indigenous women, Rosalia said that people discriminate against the indigenous women on every occasion. They are discriminated against more based on their inability to speak the official language, Spanish. They also face discrimination as they wear their traditional dress ‘traje.’
Rosalia has expressed how there is no room for indigenous women in society. For instance, a Latina woman, one whose mother tongue is Spanish and has traits of Hispanic culture, gets preference in a hospital over an indigenous woman. In the political sphere too, the absence of any indigenous women in Congress indicates the prevalent discrimination.
To fight for the women and against their exclusion from the society, Teixchel is providing them with a platform to voice their opinion and earn their daily bread by weaving.
Located in San Pedro La Laguna, on the shore of Lake Atitlán, Teixchel has allowed these indigenous women to speak their minds. Teixchel is known for using non-toxic, eco-friendly, and natural dyes, which makes it stand apart in the weaving industry.
The weaving association has given an opportunity to these less privileged women to express their views, and talk about their issues. Rosalia said that the organization allows them to be themselves, recognizes them, and lets them speak, unlike any other associations in the country. Teixchel has also provided them with a source of income, which will help them to fight exclusion.
Rosalia pointed out that weaving is important to the indigenous women because it has been passed on to them through generations. But the bigger picture is that they can relate to the art form, and share their stories through its colors and patterns.
Generally, the indigenous women are the income bearers in the family. Many women are single mothers or even widows. The women earn by weaving. Apart from it being an important source of income, weaving also teaches them co-operation as they work by helping each other out.
But, this intricate art-form does not pay its price. The time and energy invested upon the detailing of each piece is frequently underpaid. The income generated is also less. Thus, indigenous women give up as they find it impossible to sustain with that amount of money.
Rosalia emphasized on the importance of preserving the art form. Calling its cultural heritage, she hopes to revive the lost art. In the olden days, stories were told through weaving. Rosalia hopes to preserve that culture.
She believes that with the help of Teixchel, she will be able to preserve the art form of weaving, and help the indigenous women find their place in their own society.
All images: Teixchel