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