Guatemalan Woman Weaving on a Backstrap Loom

Guatemalan Woman Weaving on a Backstrap Loom

The art of weaving on a backstrap loom dates back to ancient Maya and has been passed down through the many generations of Guatemalan Women. It is the process in which they create beautiful vibrant colored textiles and Huipils. The weaver starts with raw cotton, which they clean, dye, and spin into thread. The thread is made into a warp and placed on the loom where she can then begin weaving. Many times intricate brocade and embroidery patterns are incorporated into the cloth. The process of weaving has changed very little over time and the techniques used today are virtually the same as they have been for hundreds of years.

Guatemalan Woman Winding Spun Cotton Thread Around a Spindle

Guatemalan Woman Winding Spun Cotton Thread Around Spindle Before Weaving on Backstrap Loom

The beautiful Huipils and other textiles made by the Mayan women of Guatemala are all hand made. The first step in the process is to clean and spin raw cotton into thread. The thread is then dyed and wrapped around a spindle so it can be managed easier when weaving on a backstrap loom.

Guatemalan Woman Preparing the Raw Cotton for Weaving

Guatemalan woman preparing raw cotton for weavingThe women in Guatemala often use raw cotton when weaving textiles.  They must first prepare the cotton by picking out the seeds, cleaning it, and then beating it with forked sticks.  Then they can spin it into yarn and dye the threads with natural dyes: indigo to produce blue colors, cochineal for red, etc.