backstrap weaving

Backstrap Weaving

The art of backstrap has been practiced in the region since the time of the ancient Maya. Five of Maya Traditions’ partner cooperatives employ this technique to create elaborate textiles. Maya Traditions’ artisan partners practice two types of weaving: simple backstrap and brocade.

How It Works:

  1. Thread is selected with the patterns and colors of the final textile in mind. The artisans are provided with thread in skeins, which are rolled into balls at home.
  2. Once the thread is rolled, the design is painstakingly layered on the uridora, or warp board. Here, the artisan establishes the final length and width of the piece as well as creating specialized patterns such as maya. The warped thread is then carefully transferred to the backstrap loom.
  3. One end of the loom is tied to a tree, post, or wall. The other end other loom is wrapped around her back, allowing her to increase or decrease tension by moving forward or backward. If utilizing brocade, the artisan will create the pattern in this stage, counting and pulling the threads needed to create the design.
  4. Once completed, one representative from the cooperative will gather all of the finished textiles from the women and return to Maya Traditions’ office. The Production Manager receives and reviews each textile to ensure impeccable quality. These textiles are sent along to a local tailor for construction.

Learn the ancient art of backstrap weaving from one of our artisans in Guatemala.