OF THE LOOM
The weavers from Los Altos get up before the sun and light a fire first thing in the morning to heat their food and the materials for the day. They wash the corn that they cooked previously and then grind it for the food preparation. The leftovers are given to their animals. After breakfast, the mothers, sisters and daughters sit in a circle to start weaving with the backstrap loom. It is a very quiet family life, sharing the workload and supporting each other with child care in a collective and harmonious way. This daily practice of weaving is essential. The weaving technique is passed generation to generation, mothers teaching daughters from childhood to observe the world and embroider it.
The artisan women of Los Altos, Chiapas, proud of their heritage, recognize and strengthen each other through their work, transforming it into synonyms of identity and self-expression. It is also an extension of their family legacy, their art is learned through love and tradition, a form of learning that is old as time.
The beautiful textiles in our catalogue emerge from the hands, minds and hearts of these artists as they weave hundreds of years of tradition and meaningful indigenous millenary cosmological wisdom into shapes and colors and designs that express their own personality and aesthetics, turning each textile piece both into proof of their skill and a work of art.
The huipil is the most characteristic garment of clothing of the women from Los Altos. It varies in shape and color according to each region. For the artisans it is a point of pride to wear huipiles made by their own hand, as well as to weave the huipiles for their daughters. A piece that represents great value and that carries knowledge of the first weavers as well as the techniques and variations that their family lineage have implemented over the years.
The huipil is used by the women of the region on a daily basis; its use illustrates a way of understanding clothing as a piece that is preserved and cared for because it represents family roots and traditions. That is why this garment is a timeless piece of clothing that cannot be confined by any fashion trend as we can conceive it. It is a sample of the manual and creative skill of women who dedicate their lives to the art of weaving.
The artisan women from Los Altos de Chiapas structure their lives through a very special understanding of time, their community and the environment. The way they relate to their materials, the personal and familiar manner in which they make food, tools and even clothing, are all aspects of their daily lives. They reflect a harmony based on the tradition that these communities forged by deepening their bond with nature. Their looms are all examples of manual work learned from generation to generation of family pride, used to make a living and to leave a legacy behind.
Lekil Kuxlejal means “harmony of life” in Tseltal. This expression speaks of a philosophy regarding the way of life in Los Altos de Chiapas and speaks mainly of an ideal of peace, flow and union. It encourages the daily practice of self-development for the growth of the community. Union as a principle for order, solidarity, and a sense of vitality and well-being based both on equality and the preservation of everyday harmony.
In Los Altos, the Milpa (the crop, cornfield) is sacred; it is the first source of food for the communities that live there and it provides the energy that makes Lekil Kuxlejal possible. The wise elders say “you have to take the children to the Milpa so that they learn”, and so that they “come into contact with their natural Mothers-Fathers.”
If something has kept Lekil Kuxlejal alive, it is memory. For the communities of Los Altos de Chiapas, there is nothing more important than preserving the history of their people since this is the only way they have of keeping their roots alive.
LOS ALTOS DE
Los Altos de Chiapas is a region that is located in the state of Chiapas in southern Mexico. It is known as the paths of heaven or the place of the stars due to the captivating view that rises from the high forests of La Sierra de Chiapas (Chiapas mountain range). It is an area inhabited primarily by various indigenous groups such as the Tseltal, the Tsotsil, Ch’ol, and Zoque, among others. The regional center of this area is San Cristóbal de las Casas.