Good morning my dear friends! As some of you may notice, Loom Tree has an updated website! Among the new features, such as a portal to book your online visits, we have also had a chance to revise and contemplate the ethos of our company. It is my belief that the world of business is undergoing a deep transformation as conscious consumers become more commonplace, and business accountability is evermore scrutinized. On our part here at Loom Tree we often talk about what we give back to the amazing land and culture that allowed our business to emerge and flourish. It is in that spirit, as well as to reaffirm our company ethos, that in this new year I intend to dedicate more of this platform to support and promote the communities whose culture and heritage have made Loom Tree possible. The native peoples of the Americas have long been exploited, ignored, and repressed, and yet it is often thanks to them that the magic and wonder that exists in places like Guatemala is ultimately preserved.
When I first came to Guatemala exactly 37 years ago I was myself taken under the enchantment that lays upon this land. While my passion was indeed textiles, and the magic I reference is also woven into them, the overall magic of Guatemala was evident almost everywhere I went. I realized that the Guatemala I read about - or rather the version of Guatemala that is presented in the annals of human history - is only a small fraction of what this place is truly about. I realized it was far more ancient and wise, yet its wisdom was hidden away, for it was within this secrecy that it was able to survive. Exactly 500 years ago the first Spaniard set foot in this land, and since that moment the ancient cultures of this region have been under siege. Faced with persecution, the traditionalist Mayan culture lay in wait: hidden from view as the puritanical colonial occupation swept through the continent.
For centuries the Mayan people kept their culture alive in secret. The Mayan communities maintained a policy of isolation and mistrust in outsiders, even with fellow Guatemalans who were of the christian faith. When I first encountered this it was at the backend of the infamous Guatemalan civil war. During this conflict the Mayan communities were heavily targeted, which made them even more isolated and diffident. I will not deny that those first years I was here were particularly difficult as I had to travel to the most remote places of this region to find talented weavers, and try to convince them to trust me enough to work with me. After so many years I look back upon those first interactions, and if there is anything I am proud of in my life, it is the relationship and respect I have been able to establish, not only with my weavers, but with the communities they are a part of.
Today the playing field is a bit different. All of Latin America is undergoing a period of significant growth, and this idea of “progress for the sake of progress” is the new law of the land. The Mayan culture is no longer threatened in the same way anymore; now-a-days it is more a threat of being forgotten, or relegated to the “ethic-curiosity” section, than anything else. That is why it is so important that we - especially those who directly benefit, like myself - make every effort possible to sustain them and prop them up. If Guatemala should ever lose its Mayan traditions, this land will not only lose a “neat” element that makes it unique, it would lose its connection to its vastly old heritage and the bottomless wisdom therein.
So, dear friends, I hope you appreciate that over the course of this year we here at Loom Tree will do our best to not only bring you beautiful and elegant textiles to fill your home with, but also the backstory that made our textiles possible. I sincerely hope that as you enjoy these fine pieces in your home you will also remember and appreciate the incredible and magical place that made them. For it is through remembrance and understanding that the magic of Guatemala may be preserved and even healed.
As always, thank you for reading!