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The Amazing Wool Blankets of Momostenango, Part of Guatemala's "Cultural Heritage"

We are now offering traditional handmade wool bedspreads from Momostenango [Momo], Guatemala in the Illuminate Fair Trade store. The wool blankets from this village were recently designated as part of the "National Cultural Heritage" of Guatemala. The artisans of "Momo" have been making them for centuries.

Momostenango, in the department [state] of Totonicapan, has been the center of wool textile production in Guatemala since the late 1700s. Sheep, which were introduced by the Spanish, are well suited to the countryside and climate, and the nearby animal and wool market in San Francisco El Alto provides a good source for obtaining the other raw materials.

The wool blankets in the Illuminate store are made by Toledo Melesio Ajanel and his family. They are involved in every part of the process including shearing the sheep. Toledo washes the wool by hand, lets it dry in the sun, spins the wool and uses natural dyes to color the yarn.

Dying the yarn naturally is a lengthy process. They begin by soaking the yarn and natural dye in cold water for 8 days, followed by one day of heat, and then they "fix" the colors using ash. The color comes from the plant dye anil [indigo] from which they make two different hues of blue. Toledo uses the dyes to create patterns passed down through generations that incorporate Mayan designs.

The blankets are then woven on a traditional wooden foot loom and washed and brushed by hand until soft to the touch. No toxic chemicals are used in the process.

More Details:

  • This is a "forever blanket." The weave is tight and dense, an unmistakably high-quality artisan textile that will last a life time

  • No two are exactly the same; each is a unique piece of textile art

  • 100% wool -- the soft kind, not the scratchy kind!

  • Care: spot clean, hand wash or dry clean

The New York Times published a wonderful article in 1988 about the artisans of Momo: Guatemala's Heritage of the Loom

#fairtrade #culture

By: Don Lam & Curated Content

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