Las Artesanas de San Juan
Las Artesanas de San Juan is a weaving cooperative of 60 Mayan women. Their work is notable for the stunning scarves, shawls, purses, table runners, yoga mat bags, pillow covers, and bedspreads made possible by the skillful use of handlooms and foot looms. These are skills recently acquired by some of the women because prior to the establishment of the cooperative, the foot looms only available to the men of the village.
The complicated and precise weaving process is done in several stages. Each woman is responsible for a particular phase of the weaving process, and each member takes great pride in her specific contribution. These artisan women also take pride in the additional income they earn. Their earnings help to feed their families and to send their children to school, including a vocational school within the cooperative.
Because the school, the looms, and the administrative office are all located on the grounds of Las Artesanas de San Juan, this cooperative is a bustling place and a great asset to the community of San Juan. In addition to serving the artisan’s children, the classes here are offered to the community’s youth for a minimum tuition. When you see the women weaving in their sheltered outdoor facilities while listening to the children playing during their lunch break, you cannot help but feel the vibrancy that this cooperative exudes.
The pride that the women take in their work does not stop when they leave the grounds of the cooperative; it has also affected their family and community life in a positive way. The cooperative has had an impact on women’s roles within the family and the civic roles that women take on in the community.