Mayan Hands works with talented Mayan women artisans of traditional textiles and basketry and through fair trade, partners with them in their journey out of extreme poverty.
Working with around 200 women in nine Guatemalan communities Mayan Hands includes embroiderers, basket makers, felters, and crocheters, producing beautiful, high quality crafts distributed globally. Mayan women have woven their own and their families’ clothes on backstrap looms for over 3,000 years & this tradition continues to keep them connected to their culture and ancestry.
The ancient backstrap loom is very simple, made up of several sticks and a leather or sisal strap that wraps around the woman’s body. However, weaving requires painstaking dedication and skill, with some complex patterns taking about an hour to weave an inch of cloth even for an experienced weaver. The women of Mayan Hands inscribe their textiles with traditional symbols of the earth’s sacredness and their culture’s unique vision of the universe while creating products that are designed for the international market. Through their craft, artisans express their hopes and dreams and the work enables those hopes for a better life become a reality for their families.
Through the centuries, Mayan women have made important cash contributions to their households by selling handwoven goods. There are nearly one million weavers in Guatemala and not enough outlets or consumers for their products, often leading to sales at below market prices. Mayan Hands is committed to assist these women in their quest to rise from poverty, providing fair trade prices that results in income that allows food for families, education for children & women, improved homes and savings. Selling their handwoven textiles at a fair price, the women are gaining control over their lives.