For us, the Spanish word TRAMA, “the weft” or “binding thread”, is interchangeable with the word comida, “food¨. Our weavings clothe us, warm our families through highland winters, and carry our babies on our backs. They unite our people from generation to generation and sustain us as much as any food.
The patterns of our textiles differ throughout our communities, varying from village to village, department to department, and from the highlands to the lowlands. Each of our designs and patterns tells a different story, representing the unity of our past histories and present cultures. The ancient textile craft of backstrap loom weaving binds together our families, communities, lands, and the traditions passed down from our ancestors.
We are active members of TRAMA Textiles, the Association of Women for Artisan Development in Backstrap Loom Weaving. 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.
- President: Amparo de León de Rubio
- Vice-President: Oralia Chopen
- Secretary: Julia Dias Mendez
- Treasurer: Juana Rosenda Cholotio Hernandez
- 1st Member: Socorro Sicay Perez
- 2nd Member: Maria Luisa Chabes Pio
- 3rd Member: Isabel Guajchaj
Our mission is to create work for fair wages for the women of Guatemala; to honourably support our families and communities; and to preserve and develop our cultural traditions through the maintenance of our textile arts and their histories.
In 1988, after some of the most devastating years of Guatemala´s civil war, our association was formed. At the beginning our name was CENAT (Centro Nacional de Artesania Textile), but since then we have changed our name to ASOTRAMA (Asociación Trama) and finally just TRAMA Textiles. The civil war was a time when most of the men from our communities: our grandfathers, fathers, brothers and sons, disappeared. Those of us who remained were forced to figure out how to survive and support our households and communities. During those desperate times, we realized the benefits of collaboration. From this union, TRAMA Textiles was formed.
Today our groups proudly weave as they continue the ancient textile art of backstrap loom weaving that has sustained our cultures and communities for over 1,500 years. TRAMA’s backstrap loom weavers utilize traditional technology and designs to create high-quality products both for national and international markets.
Weaving in the intimacy of their homes, our weavers are able to provide additional economic income to their families. By marketing their products through an organization that fights for the dignity, well-being, and ethnic expression of its associates, the continuity of their traditions and work is guaranteed.
TRAMA Textiles is a worker-owned women’s weaving association offering training to weaving cooperatives around Guatemala and enabling them to produce quality fair-trade textile goods. 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 training we offer to each of our groups combines 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. We also sell products in two other shops in Antigua: Colibri and Ojo Cosmetico, in addition to exporting goods to Europe and the United States.
TRAMA Textiles also relies on its weaving school, La Escuela de Tejido, to help pay for the administrative and promotional costs of the association.