The Collective Malacate Taller Experimental Textil Joins RAIZS Artisanat Solidaire to preserve a sustainable Mexican art

The “Malacate” or ” small ” is a tool often used in textile activity to rotate the yarn of cotton for after use for weaving.

It is the anthropologist Karla Canovas, who in 2010 decided to start the project Malacate Taller Experimental Textil with a group of weavers from the Los Altos region of Chiapas, Mexico. It’s a few years before she discovered the region and her textile art by going there to work in an investigative work for the University.

“The first objectives stemmed from the reality and concerns expressed by the same weavers in the Los Altos region. Many were accustomed to receiving from Government and its institutions resources from programs that only partially and temporarily solved their basic needs. However, when these resources were unavailable, the weavers faced a major obstacle and wished to find ways to do so.

Gaining their economic independence, which was a challenge because before the eyes of their families and especially their husbands, this was not well seen. They wanted to generate income for all and their families without having to depend on anything or anyone. This is how, despite the implications, we have decided to join our efforts and knowledge by bringing everyone what they knew.

We’re starting from scratch. It was and it is always a process of awareness and reflection on the value we have as women. For my colleagues, this meant reflecting on the importance they had as bearers of traditional knowledge passed down from generation to generation, while understanding the value of the knowledge of women belonging to other Cultures. Be aware of the importance that women have in the world and of the power we have to transform our reality“.

founders of Malacate Taller Experimental Textil . Karla Perez Canovas and the weavers of zinacantan, Chiapas. Isaac Guzmán Arias.

In every city in the region of Los Altos de Chiapas such as Aguacatenango, Zinacantan, San Juan Chamula, Pantelho, Oventik, among others, there is a special embroidery model that makes the textile art wealth of Chiapas and Mexico.

The cooperative works in different regions of Los Altos de Chiapas, seeking sustainable and environmentally friendly processes and materials. Moreover, the need to perpetuate traditions in textile art is a fundamental part of the life of Malacate taller experimental Textil.

In Pantelhó is currently encouraging planting and weaving spun cotton winch to allow not only the rescue of cotton, but the practice of spinning in “small” or Malacate and thus preserve and weave antique pieces, we are always in the first phase because we really do it from the local section and knowing that some women and some men remember what grandmothers did in the past, but we still have a lot to do. In Oventik which belongs to San Andrés Larráinzar, one works with drawings of ancient iconography developed small and pieces of the neck, then create these blouses or dresses that will be prepared by seamstress Vicky Bonifaz of Malacate taller experimental textile. In San Juan Chamula, we practice spinning and dyeing natural wool and weaving in the belt. In Santa Marta, local iconography is the one that is applied on supports of different fabrics creating new clothes. In Aldama, we have a project to develop paintings with ancient iconography. In San Juan Cancuc, local drawings are experimented by applying only new colour ranges.


Photos and text: Karla Pérez Canovas

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