In San Cristóbal de las Casas, a unique encounter takes place in Mexico: Hombres Tejedores (weaving men), an effort to redefine gender stereotypes.
The culture in Chiapas is a symbol of resistance. This struggle is tangible in its constant insult against abuse, power and injustice. It is also present against a non-human agent: time and its inexorable advance. This, in turn, is a gift and a curse.
The practices and customs in dozens of municipalities of the state of the Mexican southeast are governed from closed perspectives. These are alien to the struggle for equality in contemporary societies.
Machismo is one of the features that still permeate the daily lives of millions of families, where gender roles designated by old customs, remain firm until today.
Among the victims of harassment and harassment are women and men whose ideals go against the grain. For that reason, their longings for freedom must be protected in privacy. There these “closet weavers” are kept.
The fight for the needles
Ignacio is a member of the Aula Textil P’ejel, a collective dedicated to disseminating and recovering traditional techniques, fabrics and embroidery. His personal project, D-CARA has traveled from Argentina. It is in San Cristóbal de las Casas where Ignacio found a headquarters to combine his passion for textiles, and at the same time, support movements such as feminism and queer struggle.
“I studied fashion design in Argentina, and I wanted to come to Mexico to learn more about textiles, the first destination I chose was Chiapas because it is the most important, I would say.”
“At the beginning I took embroidery workshops and then I got to know the guys in the collective, in total we are 4 individual projects, mine is D-CARA, which seeks to be a meeting point for social struggles, as well as a commercial space”.
On his experience with the communities, Ignacio talks about the exemplary case of Alberto, a boy from Magdalena Aldama, a municipality in the center of the state. Alberto was the victim of discrimination and harassment on the part of his neighbors in the community, who saw with bad eyes the taste of Alberto for weaving.
“In the West, this practice is no longer punished, but in the communities, men like Alberto are insulted for carrying out supposedly feminine activities.”Ignacio
In the case of Alberto, this same machismo was key in his development as a creator, since as a man he could perform activities that his weaving partners are not allowed:
“They (the weavers) can not go elsewhere to sell their products, even when they come to offer them, it is the husbands who speak, they, who do all the work of creation, stay there, behind.”
Ignacio continues: “Alberto could come to San Cristóbal to sell his clothes, after a while he and his family could not keep up with the orders, now he works with about 60 women in his community. in the UNAM and in several states of Mexico. “
Recomposing the social compound
For the sake of offering an alternative, Hombres Tejedores invites anyone (regardless of gender, age or origin) to learn or reinforce manual weaving skills. Also to question the paradigms dictated by society. It is a space where they can be and do their trade freely.
Ignacio coordinates these free meetings. It reminds us of different achievements of this initiative in its brief time of existence in the country:
“Hombres Tejedores brings together textile artists from indigenous communities and other settlements in Chiapas, among them I remember a guy from another municipality, Venustiano Carranza, who is very excited to bring his work here, unfortunately due to economic issues he has had to go to work Monterrey in the construction sector, since she collects money, she will return to continue learning and sharing her work, and also, with Alberto’s example, some women begin to teach them how to weave their sons, that is what we are looking for: that they begin to change gender stereotypes. “
Welcome weavers of the world
It is in these meetings that Ignacio receives people of different nationalities, who – like him – seek to know more about the artistic universe that exists in the textile baggage of Chiapas.
“We usually start creating something simple, a scarf, then a hat, or heaters, we work with local materials, like the virgin wool of San Juan Chamula.” Embroidery techniques, pompoms, always trying to take advantage of the local product.
The meetings, held in Aula Textil P’ejel and sponsored by Ignacio and his collaborators, allow men and women to attend these meetings to reflect on issues such as gender roles, while providing them with tools to learn from what they have achieved. artisans
“Embroidery is addictive, you come once and then you do not let go until you finish your garment, and the one that follows …”, says one of the attendees.
Meetings are held every Saturday at 5:00 pm, open to all publics, subject to prior confirmation of attendance. You can follow D-CARA on their social profiles and learn more about the Hombres Tejedores project on their Facebook profile.