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.

Candis Krummel Winding Yarn Around Pegs on a Warping Board

Guatemalan women wind yarn around the pegs of a warping board to create the warp when weaving textiles on a backstrap loom.

For many generations the women of Guatemala have woven beautiful Huipils and other textiles on backstrap looms. They start with raw cotton to make the yarn. After the weaver has prepared the yarn the next step is to wind it around pegs on a warping board. The different colored strings are crossed at some points to separate the colors and create a striped pattern. This is called a ‘warp’ and it is attached to bars of the backstrap loom when it is finished. The length of the warp determines how long the textile will be.

Candis Krummel’s Weaving Center and Museum is a must-see if you are visiting Santiago Atitlan.

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 making thread from cotton

Guatemalan woman making thread from cottonThe Guatemalan woman in this photo is making thread from cotton.  The cotton is pulled and spun creating a continuous thread that is then dyed and finally used to create the beautiful huipils that we offer to you on this website.

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.