The Weaving Mayan Women of Cojolya
Since 1983, Cojolya has been collaborating with Mayan women living on the shores of Guatemala`s breathtaking Lake Atitlán. Both a support system and artistic venture, Cojolya ensures fair working conditions, materials like threads and looms, training and the chance to reach out to the world with masterful artisanship.
The nonprofit Association Of Women Weavers works closely between designers and women to cultivate new skills and preserve a cultural heritage going back two thousand years that might otherwise be lost. The craft is continually threatened by the influx of cheap clothing from the U.S. and even though traditional designs are still popular with tourists, hand-woven garments must compete with mechanized production and could go entirely extinct.
Not only can women practice their skills and work with their hands to make the clothing styles they know and love but they can support their families in more ways than one, since daughters can start to learn the art of weaving through first imitating and then having a go too.
‘This art form is valuable because it represents our culture, I don’t feel comfortable in blouses or other types of clothing. The huipil is part of our history because our mothers and grandmothers wore it.’
A member of the World Fairtrade Organization, Cojolya creates fair working conditions, that even extend to people’s educations and homes, where ONIL cookstoves replace unhealthy and possibly dangerous kitchen hearths. The Association offers a great opportunity for women to develop professionally, on top of weaving, with free training in using sewing machine, jaspe dyeing, business, communication, and design too.
Fair Trade, Ethical, Personal, Revolutionary.
To many consumers, the idea of knowing where our products come from is unfamiliar, perhaps even uncomfortable. We have become accustomed to purchasing mindlessly, often blinded and even reassured by the excess of advertisements denying the consequences of our purchases. At Cojolya, we opt to oppose this often harmful consumption pattern, and inspire a certain consciousness in people. We believe in treating our artisans with respect, working to better their lives, and restoring a (not so) revolutionary way to trade in our world: Fairly.