A Japanese girl weaving the threads of knowledge
One of the ways Pixan connects with the Xela community is by hosting free weaving demonstrations every Wednesday. Paid individual classes can also be organised where Paola will teach you how to make your own textile. Junko from Japan recently visited AMA to learn how to weave a beautiful Mayan wall hanging.
Junko first came to Guatemala in 2017 while on a trip through Central and South America. She met a Japanese lady who recommended visiting Xela as a good location to learn Spanish and more about the Guatemalan culture, so she decided to come back this year.
For 6 weeks, Junko came to AMA every morning to work on her weaving with Paola.
“I picked a tapestry from the Alternatives Boutique and Paola helped me recreate it. At first I knew nothing but Paola is a wonderful teacher. I made lots of mistakes and asked lots of questions and she patiently helped me every step of the way.”
Paola teaches the technique of Nauhuala and Santa Catarina Ixtahuacan, two of the communities we work in. We use a lot of the colour red which is a very popular colour in textiles because it represents blood and the reunion of communities.
Paola learned weaving from her mother who learned from her mother so she is a third generation weaver. She estimates she has taught around 100 people in the communities.
“In Western countries you often have templates, designs and plans but here we don’t plan. The plan is in the head so you have to rely on the oral tradition of passing it on. It’s a very mathematical process as you have to count the stitches. The logic is memorised in my head and then I pass that onto another person.”
There is something special about how indigenous knowledge is passed on through generations by learning and doing, rather than by reading a book. The threads of knowledge are passed on through generations by way of teaching, learning and doing. The hope is that more people will come and learn so that our threads will spread like a spiderweb, all interconnected with one another.
If you’d like to learn how to weave, you can pop into our office for a free weaving demonstration from 2-4pm every Wednesday and from here you can organise private classes. We look forward to teaching you!