Women’s Weaving Cooperative | Suan Juan La Laguna, Lake Atitlan
Tucked between three volcanoes, Lake Atitlán’s shore is surrounded by little villages like San Juan La Laguna where artisans practice the art of backstrap weaving, a Mayan tradition that has been perfected for thousands of years.
Founded 20 years ago, this women’s weaving cooperative was set up to improve economic conditions and the quality of life for women in the community of San Juan La Laguna. The founder, Rosa, faced a huge power struggle with the men of this town to set it up, due to the fact that men did not allow women to weave. Traditionally the role of women was to remain in the home. Rosa fought for years for the ability to get this cooperative open, the authorities even put her in jail at one point. But she kept fighting, the women of the cooperative would meet up in private when their husbands were out in order to weave. Finally after about seven years they were able to gain the approval to open a storefront. Today they are able to continue to weave publicly and many of the women’s husbands help them, as for many of these families the income that comes from their weaving is now their primary source of income in the household.
The yarns produced by this cooperative are all 100% organic and they use a natural dye process of the Tz’utujil tradition derived from locally found plants, trees, and insects in the Lake Atitlan area. The bark, berries, leaves, and insects all produce a different color.
These ladies shine like no one else. They are strong, proud women who we are honoured to work in partnership with.