The talented artisans that work with us are from the municipality of Chamula. Chamula is one of 122 municipalities in Chiapas, Mexico. There they speak the native dialect, Tzotzil which has its roots in the Maya language. The women of this region preserve ancient traditions of hand weaving and embroidery. The men take care of livestock like the sheep that will eventually produce the wool used in weaving.
Maya heritage is evident in the dress and customs of the community and even more so in the art and textiles they create. The techniques can be traced back thousands of years and they give us a peek at the colorful imagination of the "lost civilization". Just as the Maya people received much of their inspiration from animals and plants, the colors and designs of the textiles these women create today show a zest for life and nature, with floral, zoomorphic and anthropomorphic motifs.
Historically, the elaboration of these handmade textiles extended up to the Hispanic period. Under Spanish rule, the textiles were considered an important tribute. Unfortunately, back then there were no worker unions or fair trade regulations.. Artisans were forced to work in workshops to create pieces solely for the Spanish.
Today, there is a revival of these ancient techniques and a renewed appreciation of their beauty and colors. We are frequently wowed by the intricacies and dazzling designs of new textiles we discover. They are truly stunning. Thankfully, standards for human rights and ethics have risen. However, it's still not enough. Most of these artisans are self-employed and sell their wares by traveling on foot to the nearest city. There they often have their prices haggled down by tourists. We have taken a step towards fairer trade by paying our artisans their asking price. We want to respect the level of skill and the amount of time required to create each piece. The technique used to elaborate the textiles for our dog collars is called "Trenzado a mano" in spanish. In their native dialect Tsotsil "pe'ch bil ta k'obal".
These beautiful textiles and remind us that nothing is ever truly lost.