International Women’s Day was Thursday, March 8, 2018. It’s days later and I now find time to acknowledge, honor, recognize, applaud some of the women we met along the way during our two back-to-back Chiapas Textile Study Tours in February and March this year.
Women make, sell, suckle babies in Magdalenas Aldama, Chiapas
I don’t know all their names.
The Virgin of Guadalupe is a Zapatista icon in Chiapas, role model for justice
Their hands, feet and faces are universal stories of women who work hard with little recompense.
Shop keeper, San Juan Chamula, Chiapas
Their garments tell the stories of culture, history, creativity and subjugation by Spanish conquerors who imposed clothing style as indigenous identifier.
Maria and her niece, Aguacatenango, Chiapas
Most are women who weave or embroider.
Maruch is her Tzotzil name, Maria is her Christian name, San Juan Chamula district
Some are women who craft pottery — cooking vessels and decorative jaguars, many of them life-size.
This is Esperanza sculpting a clay jaguar, Amantenango del Valle, Chiapas
A few are famous. Most are not.
Grand Master of Mexican Folk Art Juana Gomez Ramirez, Amantenango del Valle
They are mothers, daughters, grandmothers, aunts, cousins, nieces.
Rosa, center, and her nieces, Magdalenas Aldama
Some, like Rosa and her husband Cristobal, participated in the 1994 Zapatista uprising to stand for indigenous rights. The movement paved the way for a stronger voice for women.
Producing handmade paper, Los Leñateros, San Cristobal de Las Casas
They carry babies on their backs, harnessed by robozos.
Market day, San Juan Chamula, Chiapas
They use rebozos shifted to the front of their bodies so infants can suckle. They use rebozos to carry market vegetables and fruit to the cooking fires.
Lourdes, research coordinator, Museo Textil Mundo Maya
Few are professionals like Lourdes who translates Spanish to English for us, educated in sophisticated cities far away.
Maria Meza, weaving cooperative director, Tenejapa, Chiapas
Others head cooperatives, organizing the business of textile making and selling to sustain families.
A metaphor for indigenous women worldwide, essential and faceless
Some are faceless. We see their progeny.
Manuela Trevini Bellini with PomPom Shawl at her shop Punto Y Trama,
A few are expats from Italy, France, Canada, the United States or Japan, who migrate to the promise land.
Women’s hands make organic tortillas from native corn
We see hands making tortillas, tending the cooking fire, soothing a child’s cry, serving a husband dinner.
Pioneer Swiss photographer, Gertrude Duby Blom, at Na Bolom
Most of all, we know that women’s work begins early and ends late, is continuous, often self-less and usually in the service of others.
Andrea Diaz Hernandez weaves this for eight months, San Andres Larrainzar
Take a moment to consider what women around the world give as we regard those whose photos we see here.
In Yochib, Oxchuc, impaired mobility, health care access hours away
Take a moment to give thanks to all the women in the world. We are more similar than we are different.
Meet the Women of Chiapas: 2019 Textile Study Tour
What will become of the next generation of women?