Malacate' or 'malacate petet A "loom" is a tool often used in the textile business to spin cotton yarn for later use in weaving.

It was anthropologist Karla Canovas, who in 2010 decided to start the Malacate Taller Experimental Textil project with a group of weavers from the Los Altos region of Chiapas, Mexico. She discovered the region and its textile art a few years ago when she went there to work on a research project for the university.

"The first objectives stemmed from the reality and concerns expressed by the same weavers in the Los Altos region. Many of them were used to receiving resources from the government and its institutions from programmes that only partially and temporarily solved their basic needs. However, when these resources were not available, the weavers faced a major obstacle and wanted to find the means to do so.

Gaining economic independence was a challenge because in the eyes of their families and especially their husbands, it was not seen as a good thing. They wanted to generate income for everyone and their families without having to depend on anything or anyone. So, despite the implications, we decided to join our efforts and our knowledge by each contributing what they knew.

We are starting from scratch. It was and still is a process of awareness and reflection on our value as women. For my colleagues, it meant reflecting on the importance they had as bearers of traditional knowledge passed on from generation to generationThis is a good thing, but it also means understanding the value of the knowledge of women from other cultures. Be aware of the importance of women in the world and the power we have to transform our reality ".

Founding group of Malacate Taller Experimental Textil. Karla Perez Canovas and the weavers of Zinacantan, Chiapas. Isaac Guzmán Arias.

In each town of the Altos de Chiapas region, such as Aguacatenango, Zinacantan, San Juan Chamula, Pantelho, Oventik, among others, there is a special embroidery pattern that makes up the richness of the textile art of Chiapas and Mexico.

The cooperative works in different regions of Los Altos de Chiapas, looking for sustainable and ecological processes and materials. In addition, The need to perpetuate traditions in textile art is a fundamental part of the life of Malacate Taller Experimental Textil.

"In Pantelhó the plantation and the weaving of spun cotton is currently being promoted to allow not only the rescue of cotton, but the practice of spinning in "petet' or malacate and thus preserve and weave the antique piecesWe are still in the first phase because we are really doing it from the local and knowing that some women and men remember what the grandmothers did in the past, but we still have a lot to do. In Oventik, which belongs to San Andrés Larráinzar, we work with drawings of old iconography developed from small and pieces of the neck, then create this blouses or dresses that will be prepared by the seamstress Vicky Bonifaz of Malacate Taller experimental textile . In San Juan Chamula, natural wool is spun and dyed and belt weaving is practiced. In Santa Marta, the local iconography is the one that is applied on supports of different fabrics creating new clothes. In Aldama, we have a project to create canvases with old iconography. In San Juan Cancuc, local designs are being experimented with using only new colour schemes.

Welcome! Malacate Taller Experimental Textile.

Photos and text: Karla Pérez Canovas

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