In the Beginning, Weaving a Story

“The relationship between weaving and storytelling is as old as time.” Carol Karasik wrote that, describing her book of folk tales, Maya Gods & Monsters. She also describes a mysterious thread that binds spoken and visual languages together. I like thinking of textiles as visual language.
As Linda and I have been working on our fall book about Navajo weavers, I’ve learned a little about the Navajo creation stories. The significance of Spider Woman for Navajo weavers brought to mind Grandmother Moon from the Maya stories. In the beginning of the world,  Grandmother Moon climbed into a tree, made her loom and weaving sticks out of branches, and taught the first women how to weave. They are weaving still.

I love that our books honor and celebrate the many threads weaving story to cloth:

“Cloth is a language through which a people can tell stories about themselves, their community, and their place in the universe.” Eric Mindling, Oaxaca Stories in Cloth

Guadalupe Lopez. Photo by Eric Mindling from Oaxaca Stories in Cloth.

“When she touched the mayu kuti (River of Stars/Milky Way) in Mama’s weavings, she knew she was touching stars.” Elizabeth vanBuskirk, Beyond the Stones of Machu Picchu.

Painting by Angel Callanaupa Alvarez from Beyond the Stones of Machu Picchu.

“The design of the universe is woven with clarity and purpose, line by line into Maya cloth. A Maya woman weaves the cosmos as it awakens.” Walter F. Morris, Maya Threads

A woman of San Andres weaves a copy of the burial shroud of Lady Evening Star. Photo by Walter F. Morris, Jr. from Maya Threads.

“The cloth lives an experience.” Lola Sapalú in Traditional Weavers of Guatemala.

A huipil woven in a style of brocade and then embroidered. Photo by Joe Coca from Traditional Weavers of Guatemala.


Beyond the Stones of Machu Picchu

Maya ThreadsTraditional Weavers of Guatemala

2 thoughts on “In the Beginning, Weaving a Story

  1. Deborah Chandler says:

    Love it. I just finished reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Pigs in Heaven, which while not about textiles, is about meaning and family in the Cherokee culture. Can we get this back? We who have moved so far ahead and left so much behind? Is there a way to create a world that incorporates the best of both? Individually there are people who do it. Can we somehow make it culture-wide again? I want to think so.

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