Mayan Star Collection

Guatemalan travel bags | Mayan Star Collection

The Mayan Star Collection is one of our most wonderful and challenging projects to-date! During our last sourcing trip to Guatemala, we discovered this textile and absolutely fell in love with it! As we followed the thread back to its origin, over a period of three months, we found that only three artisans in Guatemala are still making this incredible design. Though the scarcity makes it attractive, the deeper issue is that this textile motif and process run the risk of disappearing if action isn’t taken. This is something we couldn’t let happen and wanted to do everything we could to support the artisans to keep it alive, pass it on to the next generation and get you involved in the process by hooking you up with a sweet bag that proudly supports the artisans!

Loom weaving travel bags and backpacks | Guatemala artisan

The process in the Mayan Star creation is called ‘extra weft weaving’ which is essentially embroidery on the loom. As opposed to efficiently shuttling the bobbin mechanically back and forth to weave the finished textile, each individual yarn used to color & form the Mayan Stars has to be passed through one at a time by hand. This process takes approximately a week to set up and each artisan can weave a maximum of 20 meters per month. On average, one Ethnotek bag consumes ½ meter of fabric, meaning one bag employs an artisan for a day, woohoo!

Guatemalan artisan | handmade | weaving

The Mayan Star motif is called ‘Uman Plato’ in the local Kaqchikel dialect and based on our research, is only woven in Comalapa. Comalapa is 3 hours northwest of Guatemala City, accessed by a fun and bumpy dirt road and is home to the only three women we could find weaving Uman Plato. Their names are Alida Xikach, Blanca Marina Xikach and Lidia Xerech Kutza.

The Mayan Star collection shown here created 547 days of employment, which split between Alida, Blanca and Lidia, took 182 days each. Proceeds from the purchase of these bags is already being used to keep all three of them weaving the Mayan Star fabric year-round.