Guatemala, Amalia Gue, Q'eqchi' women's weaving cooperative, Traditional Weaving
Amalia Gue represents a Q'eqchi' women's weaving cooperative - Ixbalam’ke - that makes hand-woven gauze huipils, scarves and shawls in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. The cooperative of 65 women is dedicated to the production of textiles using traditional weaving techniques. Gue herseld has been weaving since she was a child and is an expert backstrap loom weaver, learning from her mother as a child.
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.
As geometry is a sacred element of the work, the square and rectangle are basic forms in Mayan textiles. Huipils, or simply tunics, are made of 2-3 rectangular panels stitched together with circular or square elements in the center to pass over the head. They can vary in length and intricacy depending on the community, their daily or their ceremonial use. This circle in the middle of a larger rectangle relates to the sacredness of the individual within the larger cosmovision as well.