We got word yesterday that our friend Maria Meza Guzman* died. We don’t know the causes and it’s not really important. What counts here is that we have lost a great traditional back-strap weaver from the highland Chiapas village of Tenejapa. Maria operated a women’s weaving cooperative across from the village zocalo since the early 1990’s.
I have been bringing groups to visit Maria since 2017. It was always our first Chiapas Textile Study Tour stop in Tenejapa where she greeted us with a warm smile and hugs of welcome.
In the early years, most of the ceremonial women’s huipiles and men’s sashes were woven with local sheep wool that was naturally dyed. We could still find these at this cooperative along with the bolsas (shoulder bags) used daily by men and women. Mostly, now, the garments are woven with commercially dyed cotton and glittery polyester thread. Maria only offered pieces of the highest quality workmanship and we could depend on her to give us a back-strap loom weaving demonstration to show how the designs were integrated into the base cloth using the pick-up weaving technique (also called brocade here or bordado) found around the world. The technique is difficult to master and Maria Meza Guzman was a master!
I offer this photo gallery as a tribute to Maria’s memory, her skill and the imprint she left on us of all the goodness of the Chiapas highlands and her talented indigenous people. When our 2022 Chiapas Textile Tour group returns in February, we will miss her. Que en paz descansa, Maria.
*PLEASE NOTE: Maria Meza Guzman is the aunt of Pedro Meza who, with his mother, Maria Meza Giron, founded Sna Jolobil The Weaver’s House in San Cristobal de Las Casas. It’s easy to confuse the two sisters. Maria Meza Guzman opened the Tenejapa weaving cooperative to give visitors and collectors another option to purchase fine quality weavings.