Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Published in The Social Fabric: Deep Local to Pan Global; Proceedings of the Textile Society of America 16th Biennial Symposium. Presented at Vancouver, BC, Canada; September 19 – 23, 2018. https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/tsaconf/

doi 10.32873/unl.dc.tsasp.0048


Copyright © 2018 by the author


From southern Mexico to northern Colombia, palm fronds, wild pineapple fibers, agave fibers, wild bamboo and cane have been woven into bags, baskets, mats, hats, and brooms for as long as anyone can remember. These items carry great historical and cultural value to many Indigenous people including the Otomi (Mexico), Maya (Mexico and Guatemala), Lenca (Honduras), Ngobe-Bugle (Panama), Embera (Panama and Columbia), plus the Guane and Zunu (Columbia) providing a “sense of place” for those who harvest, prepare, weave, and use or sell plant material woven items in each of their unique environments. Spanish colonization, civil wars, modern politics, tourism, and globalization are among events that have influenced production of these items in many ways, such as introduced tools like floor looms and spinning wheels; new materials (synthetics, wool, and cotton); dyes (synthetic and natural); designs (traditional and contemporary); new ideas (woven rum bottles); needs (horse gear by the Spaniards) and market demand (local, regional, and international), all of which infiltrates even the most remote villages, and play a part in the evolutions of the art in this regions. Snapshots of fiber artists in the areas mentioned above with discussion of their traditional work, changes to it, and possibilities of why, are the focus of this session.