Maya of Magdalenas

In the remote mountain town of Magdalenas, women tell the story of how Mary Magdalene, the patron saint of this community, directed the construction of the church from a treetop while weaving on her backstrap loom. The women not only built the church but also learned how to weave the spectacular huipiles worn by the statue of their saint and their female religious officials. As the result of epidemics and economic hardship in the late 19th century, the art of brocade almost died out in Magdalenas. However, the family of Abrila, the great weaver of Magdalenas, revived the art, and today the women of Magdalenas weave some of the finest textiles of all Chiapas. In the oral history of Magdalenas, Mary Magdelene appeared in a tree and taught women how to weave their ceremonial huipil .

(above left) Church in Magdalenas.
(above right) Woman from Magdalenas.

Textile Design

     
(above) Detail of a girl's huipil from Magdalenas.

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