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Amalia Gue | Cooperativa Ixbalamke

Gauzy Hand-Loomed Garments Preserve Mayan Queqchi Culture

Amalia Gue is the president of Ixbalam’ke, a cooperative dedicated to the production of textiles using traditional Mayan Queqchi weaving techniques. They live in the community of Samac de Cobán in Alta Verapaz and are inspired by the landscape and beauty of the region. All the women in her community know how to weave, having grown up around looms. Girls learn to weave using the back strap loom by the time they are eight years old.

The members of the cooperative maintain the intricate technique of gauze weaving and the use of coyuche, a natural brown cotton—practices that are rapidly disappearing. Breezy tunics, shawls, and blouses feature loose weaves and light earthy colors, perfect for staying comfortable in the Guatemalan heat. Their textiles often feature geometric patterns, grids of diamonds punctuated with animal and vegetal motifs inherited from their ancestors.

Prior to weaving, the women treat the cotton threads with nixtamal, which is prepared with corn and lime to make the threads thicker and sturdier. Weaving a standard size shawl can take up to a week, and it is finished off by hand, braiding the fringe into delicate and elaborate patterns.