ERNESTINA & HER SISTERS
Ernestina and her sisters Cristina and María are the artisan weavers dedicated to making the detailed and colorful cotton textiles featured on our products. They also do the embroidery and the shapes you see in our accessories using the loom. They are women dedicated to their craft and their family life.
They live in the Batsitetic community of Los Altos de Chiapas surrounded by countryside and mountains; they practice the principles of harmony and collectivity that their people embody. Proud of their technique and tradition with the loom for them it is of the utmost importance to preserve the history of their people, to express the memory of their mothers, and their grandmothers, through their weaving.
Ernestina and her sisters started to learn how to weave when they were 5 years old. Their grandmother, aunts and mother taught them the art of transmitting their personality through embroidery and weaving. They learned to weave symbols that are hundreds of years old and propose new designs based on their love for birds, flowers, animals and the sky. It is very intimate and personal work; giving life to their garments with every stitch.
HEALING WITH PLANTS THROUGH DREAMS
When Ernestina, one of her family members, or anyone from their small community falls ill, they turn to Ernestina’s father, who is a j´ilvanej (curandero in Spanish; healer in English). He learned about the use and preparations of plants through dreams and thus began his journey in understanding the art of healing. Today he has a comprehensive knowledge of the plants that grow in the woods and the use for each of them as well as being recognised as the huesero of the community (bone fixer).
He is a known healer in the neighboring communities,too. From the eight sisters that Ernestina has (she has no male brothers) only Maria, the youngest daughter, is learning all their father’s knowledge. She helps her dad prepare patient treatments and already has patients of her own.
THE TEXTILE PROCESS
The backstrap loom is used for the creation of the textiles. This device is a traditional pre-Hispanic tool for weaving with a meticulous thread count process, which makes each handcrafted piece unique. The fabric is literally made from scratch by manually interlacing the thread using this clever mechanism.
The backstrap loom is an instrument that consists of two small pieces of wood carved in the shape of long chopsticks.
All the parts are joined with the mecapal, a band of fabric that helps the weaver to adjust the loom to its size and comfort at the waist.
The band is attached to the weaver whilst the other end is usually tied to a post, wall, tree or any stable support in the house that allows the loom to be tensioned. The weaver sets up the workspace to start crafting by inserting threads and compacting them with the assistance of another piece of wood known as a machete.