Which one should I get? That’s a question we’ve all asked or have had asked of us on many a shopping spree. We were faced with this dilemma on a visit to a Mayan women’s weaving cooperative in the small village of Zinacantán, located in the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico. Every piece was handwoven and every piece had its own distinctive beauty. How to pick?
First, a bit about the cooperatives. Like women in many other indigenous communities, women in Zinacantán seek to supplement their family’s income. To this end, they have joined to form cooperatives that allow the women to purchase crafting supplies in bulk and at a discount. The cooperatives also help the women to market their crafts. As a side benefit, the cooperatives are also a good social outlet for the women.
The textiles produced by the women in Zinacantán are of designs and colors distinct to the region; they are very beautiful. At first, it was difficult trying to decide which one to buy but after we thought about where the money would go, our consideration went from which one to how many. For the record, we bought the purple and yellow bedspread, a tablecloth and a few placemats.
If you are ever near the larger town of San Cristóbal de las Casas, take a side trip to to Zinacantán; it’s only about a half hour ride away. There are plenty of women’s cooperatives in Zincantan but here’s the contact information for the one we went to.