TRAMA Textiles is an Association of Women for Artisan Development in Backstrap Loom Weaving in Guatemala. We work directly with 17 weaving cooperatives representing 400 women from five regions in the western highlands of Guatemala: Sololá, Huehuetenango, Sacatepéquez, Quetzaltenango and Quiché.
In 1988, after some of the most devastating years of Guatemala’s civil war, our association was formed. The civil war was a time when most of the men from our communities: our grandfathers, fathers, brothers and sons, disappeared. During this difficult time, we came together in our communities and decided to use our skills as weavers to support ourselves and our families and formed the cooperative. The cooperative gave us a sense of purpose and we started to work together to create new designs, choose colors, dye and weave our textiles. Little by little, we began to grow stronger and started to look towards a better future.
“When the association started, it was a really nice thing. As we got busy, the women began to forget about the war… Little by little, things started to change.” “My children are young and it ‘s hard to make ends meet. I lost my father and husband in the war. Now it’s only me who supports my nine children.”
Trama’s values are to pay the women up front and in full for their work and they are guaranteed a fair wage for what they produce. This means, women in our communities can earn an income to support themselves and their families in a region where paid work is hard to find.
“As a widow, I have a lot of expenses I must meet and it’s very expensive to even feed my family. If I didn’t have the association giving me some work, I would have to sell my weavings cheaper to a middleman and I would get paid much less.”
The administrators participate in annual meetings where executive decisions are made and new administrators are elected. Women who participate in these meetings are representatives chosen from each of the 17 groups which make up our association. Because our groups come from a wide variety of places, there is a range of indigenous languages spoken: various dialects of K’iche’, Mam, Kakchiquel, Ixil and Tz’utujil. The representatives are chosen primarily based on their literacy skills in Spanish, so that all groups of the association can communicate with each other.
The women proudly produce high-quality clothes, accessories and homeware. Because we use top-quality cotton thread, the colours will not bleed or run together. We pre-wash our yarn, so your weaving will not shrink when you wash it. While other weavers use one strand of yarn, we weave with two strands of yarn wound together. This makes the products more durable, higher-quality and longer-lasting.
We offer training to each of our groups, combining new and interesting ways to make their crafts more marketable, while keeping their traditional methods, designs and patterns alive. The association buys the products from each group at the wage the group determines. The product are then sold in our retail shop in Quetzaltenango and online through ETSY. We also sell products in two other shops in Antigua: Colibri and Ojo Cósmico in addition to exporting textiles to Europe and the United States.
Meet our weavers
TRAMA Textiles also relies on its weaving school, La Escuela de Tejido, to perpetue the traditions and to help pay for the administrative and promotional costs of the association.
We also offer eco tourism tours where you can meet our artisans and live with them in their community, learn about their culture, share their daily life and know more about the weaving art.