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NOVICA Artisan Community Association of Tzutujil Women Artisans

Community Association of Tzutujil Women Artisans

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We are a group of women who work toward the preservation of our traditions to be able to feed, clothe and educate our children, and also to live fully our rights as indigenous women and be productive in our society.

Our association was born in the year 2000 as way of finding support for the textiles we make. Marketing our weavings on our own was very difficult for us but, by joining forces, we found more opportunities. In 2010, and thanks to Guatemala's Ministry of Agriculture, Farming, and Food, we were able to legally formalize our association. They came to visit us and were able to see that we are a group of united women, hardworking and entrepreneurial, seeking to make a dignified living from traditional arts and crafts.

Most of the women have been weaving on backstrap looms since they were ten years, inheriting techniques from their mothers and grandmothers. Nowadays, we share our expertise and knowledge with any woman who wants to join our association but doesn't know how to weave.

In 2005, we experienced the tragedy brought on by hurricane Stan. Many of us lost loved ones, our homes and crops, which included the plants we used for making dyes. It was like starting from scratch again, and we had to buy materials because what we could rescue wasn't enough. We settled in shelters and, little by little, each one of us has found a way to come through the devastating experience that was hurricane Stan.

To this day, many of our associates still live in houses borrowed from the community and we're all working hard to be able to afford our own place. To this end, we developed a form of team work that enables us to handweave high quality textiles.

The women that constitute the board of directors are in charge of buying the threads, we all dye them, and then each one starts weaving hammocks, scarves, shawls, and more on our own.

Our procedure is simple yet fascinating. We make our own back strap looms and, on one end, we tie a ribbon holding the colored threads while, on the other end, the weaver attaches a belt and starts weaving from that end. We control the tension of the warp threads by leaning forward or back. Length depends on the type of textile product we want to make, and the designs are born from the experience and creativity of each associate, always considering the colors from our village's traditional costumes.

We are very thankful to work with you because, up to now, we were only able to sell to tourists on the streets, outside handicraft markets. We are also thankful for everyone who chooses our work for your interest in our culture and for inviting our products into your homes. By doing so you are contributing to the realization of our goals. Rest assured you are in our prayers.