After Carrie and I gingerly made our way down the steps from our hotel room (the after affect of riding the horses up Pacaya Volcano!) we meandered down the street to the weaving museo . For a mere Q15 (less than $2) we had a guided (English speaking) tour of the weaving museum.
The tour begins with a weaver showing us how to weave using a method called “back strapping.” The weaver (primarily women) sits with a strap across her lower back which is attached to the lowest stick of the loom. We both got to try it out and it isn’t easy, especially to make the intricate designs and patterns.
Next, there are displays showing common scenes in a typical casa.
The traditional Mayan attire includes a headdress (tocoyales) that is several meters long, woven into the woman’s hair and then wrapped to sit on her head. The long woven piece represents the snake, which is the symbol of wisdom.
This scene depicts how a belt width is used to evidence whether a woman is married or not. The wider belt indicates she is married. The next picture is of the traditional attire worn for a marriage ceremony. All the clothes are hand woven.
We were surprised to learn that the men also weave. They traditionally weave the skirts because the yarn used to make the skirts (las faldas) is much heavier than that to make the shirts, belts and head dresses. The men use a foot loom. We were able to sit at the foot loom and attempt to weave. It takes a very long time to set up the yarn and design for the skirt and if the yarn breaks while the skirt is being woven, the yarn needs to be fixed, if possible, or else the whole thing has to be redone.
The smaller pieces, such as belts and headdresses, are made using a small loom like this one:
After the museum we decided to check out Antigua’s market. It is a busy, bustling place. Not as big as the one in Chichicastenango, Guatemala, but equally as interesting! For those that heard me practicing my Espanol before I left, I am sure you heard me repeat the phrase “Yo quiero una mazana.” (I want an apple.) Well, you will be glad to know I finally bought una manzana!
Next to the market is a huge dump area. It smelled horrible. We were quite saddened to see, not only dogs, but humans picking through the rubbish (out of respect I tried not to photograph the people). Later, we saw a man begging on the street and gave him a bag of pineapple. We certainly walked away feeling much appreciation for the lives we are fortunate enough to live.
All in all a beautiful day. Carrie leaves on Tuesday morning and I will be alone in Antigua until Rhiannon arrives on Wednesday afternoon. I will be filling my time with one-on-one Spanish language classes.
Audrey and Carrie – dos mujeres who appreciate fine weaving, but are glad we do not need to make our own clothes because we would be forced to run around in the buff.