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Weaving classes in Guatemala!
Naturally tinted cotton yarns are hung up to dry.
Backstrap weaving with overlaid embroidery
Mayan girls learn to weave
Putting the yarn on the backstrap loom
weaving pattern 'pinchon' or 'granizo'
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Backstrap looms and more!
Backstrap Loom Weaving in Guatemala
Backstrap weaving is an ancient art practiced for centuries in many parts of the world. Peru, Guatemala, China, Japan, Bolivia, and Mexico are a few of the places they use the backstrap loom. Today it is still used on a daily basis in many parts of Guatemala by Mayan women to weave fabrics for clothing and other household cloths.
The looms are simple - typically 6 sticks- often handmade by the weaver. A backstrap loom is easily portable because it can simply be rolled up and laid aside when not in use. The back rod is tied to a tree or post while weaving and the other end has a strap that encircles the waist and the weaver can move back or forward to produce the needed tension. The weaver usually sits on the ground but as the person ages that is more difficult and they may use a small stool.
In the western highlands of Guatemala the women have typically used cotton yarn for their weavings and used natural plants from their area to dye the yarn various colors. They still tint yarn by hand but also buy cotton yarn that's already been chemically dyed. The natural tints are softer colors than chemical dyes. These natural tints come from plants and bark such as:
sacatinta - a blue color
coconut shell - brown
carrots - orange
achote - soft orange/peach
hibiscus flower - rosy pink
chilca - soft yellow
bark of the avocado tree - beige
quilete - celery green
guayabe - brown / gold
sacatinta & coconut shell - gray
Typical sitting style of the Mayan weavers while weaving.
Naturally tinted cotton yarns hanging to dry.
See more backstrap loom photos on our
Flickr Photo Albums

or in the Facebook Backstrap Weaving page
The backstrap loom, also known as the belt loom or telar de cinteron, can make different widths of fabric depending of the width of the rods. Guatemalan artisan weavers can weave as narrow as a belt or as large as 24 - 26 inch width and perhaps more.

If a cloth needs to be wider, the two pieces are joined together with heavy embroidery stitches. An example of this would be the corte (the skirt) of the Mayan women, which if hand-woven would have the pieces joined with embroidery stitches.

Many weavers incorporate intricate embroidery patterns within their weavings.
Backstrap weaving is a part of the culture of the western highlands of Guatemala. Young girls begin learning how to weave at about 7 years of age. By the time girls are ready to marry and have their own home they are extemely skilled weavers.

Education And More is a Fair Trade organization and part of our mission is to educate children and we do not allow any children to work on our weavings. Girls need to be in school receiving an education not working. We guarantee this!
Intricate embroidery that is done while weaving.
Young girl learning how to weave.
Below are various parts of the backstrap loom and other tools used for weaving. Education And More works with K'iche, T'zutujil and Kakchiquel Mayan artisans and these are the terms they use.

A pattern woven by our artisans that they usually call 'pinchon.'
Backstrap Loom - Telar de Cinteron
Strap for the weaver's back - Cinteron
Yarn or Thread - Hilo
Yarn Winder - Devanador
Weft - Trama
Warping Table - Urdidor
Rods - Palitos
Batten - Espada

Masa (dough for tortillas) is often used as paste to secure the threads.
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Education And More is a tax exempt charitable organization recognized by the
Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) public charity.
Contributions are tax deductible according to tax code.
Copyright Education And More, P.O. Box 201, Burlingame KS 66413 USA
2007-2014 --- all rights reserved
Education And More
is a Christian, Fair Trade charitable organization providing assistance to artisans and their families through educational opportunities and Fair Trade



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