A Harvest Moon

Posted on 09 September 2014

Did you see last night's Harvest Moon? Myth has it that Our Grandmother the Moon, the goddess Ixchel, taught the first woman how to weave at the beginning of time. Since then, Maya mothers have taught their daughters, from generation to generation uninterruptedly for three thousand years, how to wrap themselves around the loom and produce exquisite cloth.
 
In addition to its important religious and social aspects, historically weaving has been central to indigenous women's economics contribution to their households. In a traditional Maya context, when a girl is born, the midwife presents her with the different instruments of weaving one by one and she says*,
 
Well then, little girl,
This will be your hand
This will be your foot
Here is your work
With this, you’ll look for your food,
Don’t take the evil path,
Don’t steal
When you grow up
Only with these will you work
With your hand
With your foot
 
In the photo above, Mayan Hands weaver Bernarda teachers her daughter Haida the art of weaving on the backstrap loom, just as she learned from her mother. But unlike her mother when she was a girl, Haida looks forward to a a world of possibilities available to her because she attends school. "My parents and grandparents didn't have the opportunity to go to school and I see how they have suffered. I am very grateful that my future will be different."
 
*From the essay “Mayan Women, Weaving and Ethnic Identity: a Historical Essay” by Brenda P. Rosenbaum, in Mayan Clothing and Weaving Through the Ages, pp 157-169. Guatemala: Museo Ixchel del Traje Indigena, 1999. The Symbolic Associations topic refers specifically to data collected from Mayan women in the Tzotzil town of San Juan Chamula, in Chiapas, Mexico.

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