German Textile Maker Provides Fine Materials to Mayan Rug Hooking Artisans

Zweigart GmbH of Stuttgart Germany Sends In Kind Donation to Oxlajuj B'atz'

Twenty Mayan rug hookers will be able to resume work in early July when they receive their share of the donation sent from the venerable Zweigart factory in Germany. The craftswomen had been idled since January, when they used the last of their supply of special backing. They returned to their looms and sewing machines but decided to visit their umbrella organization to request assistance in identifying and procuring the material.

Because they receive trainings and informal education through Oxlajuj B'atz' they hoped the NGO could help them continue with this successful product. Having only a few swatches and shreds to go by, OB staff scoured the internet looking, first, to determine the name of the cloth and, second, to discover vendors to deliver it to three indigenous cooperatives in Solola and Quiche that specialize in this artful form of recycling. (The craft repurposes used t-shirts as thread.)

By March the project was about to be abandoned when two women from the Boston area, joined in the search. One is a weaver, who was sure she could discover the specifications and the other is a business woman who wants to be sure that the rugmakers can continue to provide for their families. Before long, the volunteers succeeded in not only locating the US distributor, in New Jersey, but found the home office in Stuttgart.

The elusive "14 count Aida" finally arrived in Panajachel at the end of June. After being measured, the gift will be divided among the producers. With these official samples and style numbers in hand, the women are invited to re-order from Zweigart, USA and will, again, receive an in-kind donation this time, from their sister in Boston.

Oxlajuj B'atz' (Thirteen Threads) is a non-profit indigenous women's empowerment and non-formal education organization based in Guatemala since 2004. We are a project of Komon Ajkem in Guatemala and our fiscal sponsor in the U.S. is the Maya Educational Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public foundation.