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The History of Weaving Told By Our Artisans

Juana in San Juan La Laguna, Guatemala

The History of Weaving

In Guatemala and Nicaragua the art of weaving and using natural dyes has been passed down from generation to generation over thousands of years. In Guatemala, backstrap loom weaving, a loom made of sticks and string and then tied around the weavers waist on one end and up into the rafters on the other,  is a traditional Mayan art. This technique of weaving has been passed down from mother to daughter for generations and used to create beautiful hand woven and then hand embroidered fabrics used in the traditional dress of women and men.  In Nicaragua, artisans today are still working to revitalize the traditional art after the cultivation of cotton and practice of weaving was banned by the Somoza regime in the 1950's.  Today, artisans weave on large foot pedal looms, often built by hand using reclaimed wood.  

In both Guatemala and Nicaragua artisans face great challenges in their efforts to keep this art alive. Artisans lack access to year round stable markets, lack financial resources to invest in raw materials, and lack opportunities to learn and grow their business. Living Threads Co. was founded to address all of these challenges. 

What do Our Artisans Say

Recently, we asked some of our artisans about their personal and family history of weaving:

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“I am always learning something new, I learned how to weave in 2006 from my mother Danelia Zapata and I have been weaving for 11 years “  
— Huber A. Cabellero Zapata



I learned how to weave 55 years ago by an instructor from El Salvador through a non-profit livelihood program. 
— Daniela Zapata
Living Threads Co. partner Artisans
I learned  how to weave in 2004 from my teacher Daniela Zapata and I have been weaving for 14 years. 
—  Lilliam Centeno
My grandmother taught me how to weave when I was 10 and I have been weaving since then. 
— Francisca Mendoza