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Wearable art

This beautifully handmade bag pays homage to our history. The design is from a tile from the early 1900s.

Embroidered History

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Our looks

Why we do

WHAT WE DO

We design products made with traditional techniques, natural fibers, local woods, made by artisans in rural communities of Yucatan.

Meet Yuya

Comunity

Paloma's Picks

As a self Mexican adoptee, Paloma's love for all things hand made that enbrace the rich history of this beautiful country is endless.

Always looking for those sepcial pieces that speak to her and help promote the artisan comunity.

You will find this space sprinkled with gorgeous goodies, check them out!

Paloma's Picks here

The Hands

Behind the Beauty

We work hand in hand with groups of artisans from five rural communities of the Yucatan Peninsula. Our team travels to each location every week and offers constant orders throughout the year to artisans who work from their homes; Mayan ladies can thus attend to their families, their homes and artisanal work; these mothers improve their economic income, with our designs, local materials, traditional techniques and their talent, artisans manage to create these unique pieces.

History

From generation to generation

Embroidery is the most widespread handicraft in Yucatan, as well as the most important traditional activity in the region, thanks in large part to women from rural communities who practice it. Techniques are widely varied, as there are at least 20 types of stitches; in addition to cross stitching, the best known include colorful names that translate into “mouse rib stitch,” “dog tooth stitch” and “shadow stitch,” as well as basting and Xmanicté, which are in danger of disappearing.

Recognized as a Cultural Heritage of Yucatan, embroidery goes back to pre-Hispanic and colonial times. Carbonized textile remains found in the Chichen Itza cenote feature a stitching style called Chui-Kab, which is still in practice in some regions of the state.

Cross stitching, known in Yucatan as "hilo contado" (counted thread) due to the translation of the Mayan Xok bi Chuy, was popularized throughout the region with the arrival of the Spaniards. It is believed that Maya women who worked

in Spanish homes imitated the embroidery they saw and incorporated it into their traditional dresses, called hipiles. Over time, this technique has been enriched to the point of creating outstanding pieces renowned for their quality and mastery, such as traditional mestiza ternos.

The star

Hemp

Henequen, also known as sisal, is a variety of agave native to Yucatan, called "ki" in the Mayan language. It takes between eight and fifteen years to fully mature, and its fiber is used to make highly resistant ropes.

According to different Mayan codices, a very respected priest, who was even involved in founding the city of Chichen Itza in 600 A.D., was the one who taught the Mayas how to grow and use henequen to make hammocks and ropes. The craft was cultivated all the way to the 19th century, when the textile grew in demand to make sacks, moorings and ropes for sailing. By the mid-20th century, Yucatan was the sole producer of highly valued hard fibers; high demand led to the development of haciendas, large estates that made use of the abundant, local indigenous workforce, as well as imported Yaqui and Asian slaves from Sonora and Korea. Of the "Green Gold" boom, all that's left in Yucatan are the magnificent mansions and the remains of old henequen-growing haciendas. The invention of synthetic fibers beginning in the 1940s led to its decline.

Why our Hat's are

Special

Known as the Jipijapa plant, the toquilla or Panama hat palm (Carludovica palmata) comes from the Ecuadorian lowlands, named after a small village in the Province of Manabí. Besides the well-known hats, Jipijapa is used to make fans, earrings, bracelets and baskets, among other objects. Panama hats became world-famous during the construction of the Panama Canal, when thousands of hats were imported from Ecuador for workers and were worn by historical figures such as Theodore Roosevelt, Eloy Alfaro, Napoleon III and Frank Sinatra. In 2012, Jipijapa hat-weaving was added to UNESCO's list of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Countries like Mexico have given the hats new colors, textures and shapes. Several Mayan communities in the state of Campeche have been devoted to Jipijapa craftsmanship since 1800, when brothers Sixto and Pedro García introduced the plant to this country: after a long journey through Guatemala, they planted Jipijapas in the henequen-growing hacienda Santa Cruz, in the municipality of Calkiní. The hat-making process begins three years after the Jipijapa is planted, to allow its leaves to achieve their full size. The sprouts are cut so the tender leaves can be removed and stripped with a needle. Then, the stalks are boiled with sulfur to give it a yellowish-white color and then left to dry. The quality of the hat depends on the hours it takes to make it: a hat with a looser weave can take twenty hours, while one with a tighter weave can take one month . Humidity is necessary to keep the plant fibers flexible enough to be easily woven, which is why artisans make them in natural or artificial caves. To maintain the shape of the hat while it's being woven, artisans use molds made from local wood, such as guayacan, sapodilla or tzalam or Caribbean walnut. Finally, the hat is ironed in a special press to give it shape according to the model. Proud of their roots and traditions, Jipijapa artisans are characterized by their dedication, patience and commitment. The vast majority of them learned weaving from their parents.

Respecting what the earth gives us

Tzalam wood

Since pre-Hispanic times, the Mayas have understood trees to be bridges between three worlds: the underworld, connected through the roots; the ground, home of the living and where the trunks are; and heaven, in the canopies.

Tzalam wood is also known as Mexican walnut. Its sapwood is a yellowish-cream color, different from its brown heartwood with copper or purple hues. It's used for kitchen utensils, such as plates, bowls and containers, as well as for interior decoration in items like flooring or doors due to its elegant coloration. Once worked with, its texture becomes fine and naturally shiny. Its bark is used to make dyes ranging from light brown with golden hues to dark, reddish-brown.

Our artisans come from families who have devoted much of their lives to tzalam woodworking. Wood is part of their identity, as the art of shaping and handling the material has been passed down for over four generations.

With the support of government agencies such as Mexico's National Forestry Commission (CONAFOR), woodworkers buy the raw material at the Units for the Conservation, Management and Sustainable Use of Wildlife, which are spaces authorized by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources with nurseries devoted to reforestation and soil erosion prevention.