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June 05, 2018
Manuel and his family live in Nahuala, Guatemala where he was born and raised. He learned to weave when he was 11 years old. Both of his parents were weavers and they worked on the foot loom as he does now. He weaves fabrics by the yard and is very adept at producing fabrics with an ikat design. He showed us how the different designs, including the ikats, are produced. It is a very complex process, from the preparing of the raw threads and the binding of them so that the dye resists the threads where desired. The entire process, even before the loom can be prepared may take up to 2 weeks and then the weaving can begin.
Manuel's family also helps in the weaving. Some of the older women in the family also use the back-strap loom. He mentioned that it is much harder to find weavers adept at the foot loom now as many are seeking jobs elsewhere. We hope that through the fair trade process, that Manuel, his family, and workers will want to continue weaving as they are making a fair and just wage.
Manuel de Jesus, his family, and the entire village just outside of Nahuala have been weaving for generations. They weave not only as a source of income but to maintain the traditions in their culture. Don Manuel’s family all speak Quiche, their native language. La Casa de los Gigantes met Don Manuel’s daughter many years ago when she was looking for a job. At those times she had to quit school since her family wasn’t able to afford the bus fare.Things changed once La Casa was able to provide work for Don Manuel. His daughter was able to finish school and works now as a teacher. His son also works as a teacher and hopes to one day travel and explore the world.
Diconte meaning, disenos contemporaneos de textiles (contemporary textile design) was founded by Carmen Pineda Fagioli, a graduate from the university Matias Delgado in El Salvador in Artisan Textile Design. Fagioli began Diconte in order to rescue a dying skill set that once was recognized in El Salvador but was slowly diminishing since the massacre of 30,000 indigenous people (La Matanza) in the 1930s. The patterns have been designed by Fagioli since 1983 but were elaborated and are woven by Jose Humberto Tobar (Don Chepe) and his assistant, Daniel Agusto Moran. Moran, 21 years old, has about three years of weaving with Diconte and continues to learn under the supervision of Don Chepe. Don Chepe our oldest artisan, has over 50 years of weaving experience and has devoted his time to teaching the youth to preserve the traditional weaving through practice and experience.
June 05, 2018