El Camino de Los Altos, the thread of solidarity of the Chiapas

El Camino de Los Altos is an association founded in 1996, led by Véronique Tesseraud and seven other French textile designers. The organization weaves between France and Mexico and is dedicated to the promotion of the textile craftsmanship of Mayan women living in the Highlands of Chiapas, in southeastern Mexico.
designer del CaminoVéronique Tesseraud, Lucia Velez, Maud Jarnoux, Véronique Chomel, Isabelle Rodier and Blandine Lelong: some women designers involved in the project.
In this region, women weave according to ancestral techniques, using belt looms, or “el telar de cintura” in Spanish. The weavers place a strap just below their kidneys which allows them to control the tension of the warp threads. Every Mayan village is distinguishable by a unique textile production, each with its own repertoire of symbols, motifs and colors.
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The El Camino project focuses on the preservation of these traditions so that these heritage crafts endure while also providing women with sustainable and regular incomes. For over fifteen years, the French textile designers were able to travel into Mexico several times to discover and better understand the know-how of these weavers, in order to help them develop their products.
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The goal is to allow these Mayan women to improve their autonomy. It is in this context that a local cooperative was established in Mexico in 2009. The organization, located in the center of the village of San Cristobal, is today entirely financially independent, employing seven people and welcoming nearly 130 women from five neighboring villages. This wonderful training ground houses looms and sewing machines as well as computers and textile design software. The women involved can learn to develop their business both in terms of creation and commercial planning.
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By welcoming artisans from five different communities, the textile collections are enriched by patterns and symbols that demonstrate the cultural variety of Chiapas. El Camino de Los Altos produces textile accessories such as shawls and bags, but also lines of home linens (pillows, table runners and tablecloths) that are the result of genuine exchange between the French designers and the Mayan weavers. These contemporary works are of fine quality while maintaining a sense of authenticity. They are sold worldwide according to a fair-trade model of commerce.
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