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6-7s Oeste Learns the Maya Art of Weaving

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Michele Sola meets with 6-7s class

The students in 6-7s Oeste had a special visitor on Tuesday—MCS Director Michèle Solá. She didn’t come to talk about the school. Instead she shared one of her experiences from her time as the school’s Spanish teacher—a summer trip to the Chiapas mountains of southern Mexico to learn about the Maya tradition of weaving.

Michèle explained the weaving process—from carding (stretching out) the wool and spinning the wool into thread to dyeing the thread and then using the thread to create a woven piece using a handmade backstrap loom. The process is so detailed that it can take a week to complete just one inch of weaving. The work results in an intricate design that is not only beautiful, but also tells a story.

Michele Sola

The creation of the world is a common story told in Maya weaving and is expressed through a set of sacred designs passed from one generation to the next. While the colors of the designs and the combinations can vary, the designs remain the same. Examples of these designs include elements representing ancestors, flowering corn, snakes and the universe.

Michèle shared with the students a story about a young girl she met on her trip named Andrea. Andrea couldn’t speak, but she communicated through weaving, a skill she learned from her grandmother. This encounter inspired Michèle to write a book about a young Maya girl titled Angela Weaves a Dream. Writing the book was a process she says included 37 rewrites.

Michele Sola with student

The students had a chance to see examples of woven clothing and textiles Michèle brought back from Mexico. One student even had the opportunity to try on some clothing that a young Maya girl would wear.

Michele Sola teaches students to how to weave

After her presentation, a small group of students joined Michèle to learn how to weave their own pieces. It’s an activity Assistant Teacher Anisah Moonsammy will continue with the class in the weeks to come.