All images: work by Ixbalamke weaving cooperative.
The Ixbalamke weaving cooperative has been severely affected by Hurricane Eta, which hit Guatemala earlier this month. Friends and supporters of the cooperative - who took part in the Selvedge World Fair, represented by their president Amalia Gue - have set up a GoFundMe site to assist them and the wider Samac communities. Eta’s aftermath has been compared to that of 1998’s Hurricane Mitch, the most destructive storm to ever hit Central America. The Q’eqchi’ Maya communities outside of Cobán, Alta Verapaz in the village of Samac and surrounding regions in particular, have been devastated. Samac is home to a coffee cooperative founded by Q’eqchi’ families who were severely affected by the internal conflict in Guatemala and had to flee their original territories in the 1980s. They were resettled in Samac and have developed successful and sustainable businesses.
The Ixbalam’ke women’s weaving cooperative makes hand-woven gauze huipils, scarves and shawls in Alta Verapaz. The cooperative of 65 women is dedicated to the production of textiles using traditional weaving techniques. The cooperative’s Ixbalam’ke line consists of mostly airy white gauze heritage textiles woven on backstrap looms which are embellished with patterns and iconography that relate to the natural world and the Maya Q'eqchi' cosmovision. While traditional Q'eqchi' textiles are pure white gauze, the cooperative works with natural dyes to create a variety of contrasting tones in shades of blue, pink, grey, red, black, yellow, green and brown.
The homes and personal possessions of twenty weavers who exhibited work at the Selvedge World Fair have been lost due to flooding, including all their materials and tools. Fund organiser Heidi McKinnon says, “We are working to get aid into Samac Coffee Cooperative for the entire Samac community and other Q’eqchi’ communities as possible. We are requesting $5,000 in donations to assist the communities with immediate needs and seed money to begin to repair homes if possible and purchase basic furnishings once the flood waters subside.”For more information and to donate visit the Hurricane Eta Relief for Samac Cooperative