In a World of Knockoffs and Appropriation, Guatemalan Artisans Are Taking Their Traditions Global


A Mayan weaver at Grupo Cajola in Cajola, Guatemala in 2017.

A Mayan weaver at Grupo Cajola in Cajola, Guatemala in 2017.

Imitation isn’t always a form of flattery. Certainly not for the Indigenous Guatemalan artisans who hand-make designs that date back generations, weaving history into the threads of blouses, scarves and more — only to have them be ripped off on the runway or on fast-fashion clothing racks, without due credit.

Many of the adornments on these traditional textiles contain sacred symbology, only meant to be worn by certain people deemed worthy of bearing said symbols during special ceremonies. Some designs carry deep cultural significance, and certain patterns used to this day are meant to represent indigenous folklore as well as the flora, fauna and landscapes of Guatemala — like the quetzal, the national bird, or geometric patterns of waves and volcanoes rendered in tuk (purple), raxabaj (green) and q’ij (yellow).





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