Assocatioin of Mayan Women Weavers
Chi Nim Ya
Contact person: Karin Gezelius Bergstresser
- Environmental project
- Alternative economy
- Volunteers are welcome.
Cojolya is a non-profit association of Maya women weavers located in the Lake Atitlán village of Santiago Atitlán, nestled between three volcanoes in highland Guatemala. The organization was founded in 1983 and has since been providing sustainable, fair-trade work for some 80 women who weave using the traditional backstrap loom. Cojolya’s mission is to preserve this centuries-old Mayan custom by providing an economic incentive to the weavers to continue to weave.
At our Weaving Center in Santiago Atitlán, an informative Weaving Museum is open to visitors to the Cojolya Association. Cojolya’s collection of accessories for men and women and for the home is available in the gallery shop. Cojolya offers a tour to the homes of our weavers, giving visitors an opportunity to experience the weaving processes, the art of making jaspe (tie-dyed patterns used in our textiles) and delicate embroidery… an unforgettable detour off the usual tourist trail. Private instruction and classes in backstrap loom weaving are also available.
After initially installing the fuel efficient ONIL stoves in the homes of all of the weavers, the Association continues its environmental program, collaborating with Heal the Rainbow Foundation, USA, to install ONIL stoves in the homes of families all around the shore of Lake Atitlán. These stoves use only a third of the wood consumed by an open cooking fire. In addition to reducing deforestation, it also helps the family economy by reducing energy costs by two-thirds and frees up time and money for families to use for other endeavours, most frequently in providing a consistent education for the children.
Our Association is committed to:
• Cultural diversity: Through the preservation of the traditional Mayan art form of backstrap-loom weaving.
• Artisan skills: By featuring the finest in backstrap-loom weaving.
• Fair Trade: In providing the weavers an opportunity to make a just and fair wage.
• Protecting the health of people and the planet: By maintaining a carbon-free organization through the human-powered nature of the weaving itself; by using only non-carcinogenic, ecologically sound dyes; and through the installation of fuel-efficient ONIL stoves.
The Cojolya Association offers volunteer opportunities in textile and product design, administration of a non-profit organization and women in development.
For other net participants we can deliver a lecture, procure expert information and establish new contacts in the field of our work.