Earlier this year, I was able to bring one of my dreams come to life by visiting production in Guatemala and learning about the country’s rich culture and heritage. While walking the colorful streets of Antigua and visiting artisans around small-towns near Lake Atitlan, I was astounded to see the strong Mayan influences in the day-to-day lives of the Guatemalan people. With every interaction, it made me realize how grounded Guatemalans were to their values and stuck by them despite the challenges that the country had faced in the past several decades.
One of the artisans that I had visited was Don Francisco who I noticed had a string of corn hung outside the walls of his home. After asking around and doing some of my own research, I found out that corn represents a “sacred grain” that Mayans believed God used to create man and woman. Besides being an integral part of their diet, corn is symbolized to be quite literally the way of life for Guatemalans. It is no wonder why much of the vibrant artwork that I had seen while touring the country incorporated themes of harvesting corn as a symbolic way of celebrating life.
Another visit to a small town near Lake Atitlan was just as heartwarming to see as artisans were dressed in brightly-colored clothing in form of a loose blouse and a skirt. Mayans used to weave their own textiles back in the day and it is said that each village had its own “traje” or indigenous clothing which still is worn even today. Unlike many cultures that may only wear traditional clothing for special occasions, many Guatemalans wear their “traje” as part of their daily life. It was endearing to see our artisans, Martha and Lucas dressed in their respective “traje,” talk so passionately about their craft which they had held on to from generation to generation. Unsurprisingly, many of their weaving techniques such as backstrap weaving, date back to Mayans from 1,500 years ago.
As I watched them use the traditional handloom to weave these intricate textile patterns so meticulously, it made me realize that they were actually trapping their own essence into their body of work. All the duffel bags in SOULITUDE Meraki collection contains a piece of our artisans’ soul and serves as a tribute to the Guatemalan heritage and their proud Mayan roots.