CLAUDIA & HER MOM
claudia & josefina
Claudia and her mother, Josefina, are from San Juan Chamula, a Tzotzil community in Los Altos de Chiapas. They make unique wool textiles with a weaving process passed down through generations. The traditional dress of the women of this community is the nagua, a type of thick skirt made of black wool, a characteristic garment that they proudly wear.
At Toco Madera we also work with María Hernández (Claudia’s grandmother), Ana Pérez (Claudia’s cousin) and last but not least, Rosa López (Claudia’s aunt).
A BIT ABOUT CLAUDIA'S RELIGION AND HER BELIEFS
Claudia’s culture is an ancient one, full of mysticism. It is an interesting syncretism between the Catholic and pre-Hispanic Mayan religion. The devotion and respect they feel for their gods are shown through rituals and prayers. The smoke of the incense that rises with the light of dozens of candles stuck to the floor in the church, where there are no benches, only herbs and more candles lit on the ground. Taking photos inside the church is strictly forbidden. The endless and ancestral prayers that have sprouted since pre-Hispanic times from the stone lips of the healers, the pumpkin candy, the tamales wrapped in corn and banana leaves, the pozól, the poultry that waits tied with its feet next to the bottle of pox (cane liquor), and the Coca Cola soda await the moment of being consumed. Your prosperity depends on your obedience to your gods. Through rituals they seek harmony between gods, humans, plants, animals and objects.
The figures of the saints in the church have mirrors so that each person can make their confessions by speaking directly to the statues and their own reflection. The Chamulas believe in the principle of not lying to themselves.
Everything is alive and has a purpose.
Claudia’s sister Susana dedicates her life to healing. She is a chamana.
THE WOOL TEXTILE
In San Juan Chamula, the women have the responsibility for the care and herding of the sheep as well as the process of extraction and cleaning of the wool – which takes many days – until they are able to extract the long wool fibers they will need. These fibers are used to create their traditional garments such as the nagua (skirt) for the women and the chuj (camisole) for the men.
Their way of weaving is one of the most beautiful and recognised textile practices in the area.
THESE CHARACTERISTICS IN THEIR PROCESS ARE WHAT MAKE THEIR TYPE OF WORK AUTHENTIC AND SUSTAINABLE.
Among this Tzotzil community, taking the herd to the mountains and fields and taking care of them is not seen as work, but as part of their daily life. It is an activity that they have carried out since they were little girls and has become part of their culture.
The animals are extremely valued as they are a vital source of material for their clothing. They take good care of them so they produce the wool of the quality they need.
TO MAKE ONE LOOM OF THE KIND WE USE IN TOCO MADERA WE NEED THE WOOL OF ONE SHEEP AND A HALF. SHEEP SHEERING HAPPENS EVERY 6-8 MONTHS.
Once the sheep are sheared, the wool is obtained. The next step is to wash it with soap and cold water. To prepare the wool for spinning, first they must unravel it by hand.
- TO MAKE ONE LOOM OF THE KIND WE USE IN TOCO MADERA, CLAUDIA TAKES TWO DAYS TO WASH AND UNRAVEL THE WOOL.
The next step is the jornado of the wool with two calax. The calax is a type of wooden brush with metal bristles; they place the wool on a paddle and brush it. They brush the wool until it has no knots, no debris, and is ready to spin.
- TO MAKE ONE LOOM OF THE KIND WE USE IN TOCO MADERA CLAUDIA TAKES TWO DAYS TO COMPLETE THE JORNADO PROCESS.
In the Chamula community, the instrument that they traditionally use to spin the wool is the petet, a stick with a clay ball at one end. The art of rolling wool fibers into a thread with a petet takes time, patience, and practice.
Once the woolen threads are in place, the loom is prepared. Arranging the threads and the structure of the loom is a process known as urdido (warping).
- TO MAKE ONE LOOM OF THE KIND WE USE IN TOCO MADERA CLAUDIA TAKES 5 DAYS WORKING THE PETET.
The backstrap loom is tied to the end of a tree and the other end is held at the waist with leather belt. It has several components: a series of wooden rods used to achieve the width of the fabric and to weave the threads. The heddle rods are used to lift the even threads and create a “hole” or space between the two sets of threads into which the weft is inserted. For weaving, women only use wooden tools and their hands. Their fingers help them to separate, push, distribute, pull and divide the threads that will form the loom.
- TO MAKE ONE LOOM OF THE KIND WE USE IN TOCO MADERA CLAUDIA TAKES 5 DAYS WEAVING.
Once the loom is ready, it is washed again with soap and cold water. It shrinks almost a third of its original size as the fibers of the wool contract and tighten. These are looms of uncommon and precious quality. The last details are knitting and decorating the looms with yarn pompoms.
- TO MAKE ONE LOOM OF THE KIND WE USE IN TOCO MADERA CLAUDIA TAKES 2 HOURS KNITTING.