el camino de los altos
since plans for this trip to chiapas first began to take root some months back, one of the aspects i had been most eagerly anticipating was the opportunity to visit + spend time with the ladies from el camino de los altos - an association of 130 mayan weavers working together to preserve their ancestral art and to improve their social + economic conditions.
el camino de los altos is the realization of a seed first planted in 1996, when french textile designer véronique (véro) tesseraud began to work with women from different communities in the region, recruiting a cadre of long-time friends from home to pull forces with her on a volunteer basis, collaborating with the indigenous women around a collection of high-quality pieces based on pre-columbian textile traditions and techniques.
the association, which was born in 2009, is a cooperative formed of women from 5 local municipalities, each with their own distinct textile traditions. home base for the association is a new center here in san cristobal - a truly lovely space where the women can come to share ideas, learn new skills (both artistic and entrepreneurial), and participate in all aspects of the process of bringing their products to new markets.
the center/workshops feels very much like a place where magic happens. throughout the grounds, there is a sense of the real respect that the indian weavers and the french designers have for one another’s expertise. it’s not an easy balance to strike, and it’s a tremendous accomplishment, what the team + the mayan women are building together – a model of true collaboration. decisions are made collectively, and the women set the pricing for their pieces.
i’m super enthusiastic about developing l’aviva home’s relationship with el camino in the coming months. i’ll be writing more about the association, their position in the community, and the larger context of the evolving textile tradition in chiapas soon - there’s so very much to share.