Sisters from Different Mothers

Here’s a funny thing. Back in 2014, I was sitting at my desk deep into working on Deborah Chandler and Teresa Cordon’s book, Traditional Weavers of Guatemala, when I got an email.

It was from Marilyn Anderson, a well-known and well-loved scholar of Guatemalan textiles who had lived in that country for decades, studying the weaving, connecting with the artisans, giving them her heart. “I’m writing a book,” she said. “Would you be interesting in publishing it in North America?”


When I looked at Marilyn’s outline and introduction and some of her handsome woodcuts, I could quickly see that it closely paralleled Deborah and Tere’s book in the subject matter it covered. So closely that I couldn’t consider publishing it too, but we had some good discussion back and forth. It’s funny how books can come to flower in the same season.

These two books share so much intention, so much knowledge, so much passion for their subjects, they’re like sisters from different mothers. And there are differences. Marilyn’s book, Guardians of the Arts (Guardianes de las Artes) is completely illustrated with her elegantly simple woodcuts, versus Joe Coca’s vivid photography in Traditional Weavers of Guatemala. Marilyn’s book is bilingual, with Spanish very respectfully coming first. Marilyn’s honors some hard crafts such as pottery, glassmaking, and metalwork in addition to all the textile processes that are covered in both books. It’s fascinating to page through the two of them side by side and imagine how they grew.

Are you a book person? You know, the kind of person who not only resonates with the content and meaning of a book, but who strokes the paper, admires the stitched binding, runs your hand over the spine as it sits on your shelf? If you are, you want both of these books. You don’t want to choose. Yes, there’s content overlap. Yes, there’s a shared passion and appreciation for the deep craftsmanship of Guatemala. But no, they’re not redundant.  They’re sisters from different mothers.


About ordering those books:
guardianes-de-las-artes-cover-front-800Guardians of the Arts (Guardianes de las Artes) is available through the Pro Arte Maya website.




Traditional Weavers of GuatemalaTraditional Weavers of Guatemala
is available at ClothRoads, Amazon, and at your favorite book shop.

2 thoughts on “Sisters from Different Mothers

  1. Linda Ligon says:

    A small correction: Marilyn lived in Guatemala off and on over several decades. She lived there in the 1960s and 1970s, and then only intermittently in the 1980s and 1990s, primarily doing fieldwork for her book, Daughters of the Corn. If you visit her website, which you should, you’ll find other projects of interest.

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