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El Chile, San Ramon, and the Road between Matagalpa and Jinotega

Discussion in 'Scenic, Architecture, and Travel' started by MizOre, Dec 11, 2014.

  1. MizOre

    MizOre TalkEmount Regular

    84
    Jan 18, 2014
    Nicaragua
    December 10, I hired a car to take me to El Chile to see the weavers. Somoza III's regime repressed the indigenous textile traditions and Ernesto Cardenal tried to revive back strap weaving in the 1980s. The backstap looms didn't make a big comeback, but around six weaver are still active weaving, mostly on floor looms for handbags and wallets and backpacks, plus some yardage.

    Whole set here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rebecca_ore/sets/72157649309135828/


    [​IMG][/url]TriptoElChile8 by rbb_56, on Flickr[/IMG]

    Some of the looms and equipment.

    [​IMG][/url]LoomsInElChile1 by rbb_56, on Flickr[/IMG]

    Parts of a backstrap loom.

    [​IMG][/url]TriptoElChile7 by rbb_56, on Flickr[/IMG]

    Women weaving yardage on floor looms.

    [​IMG][/url]TriptoElChile6 by rbb_56, on Flickr[/IMG]

    Hills outside San Ramon.

    [​IMG][/url]TriptoElChile3 by rbb_56, on Flickr[/IMG]
     
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  2. davect01

    davect01 Super Moderator

    Aug 20, 2011
    Fountain Hills, AZ
    Dave
    Thats great that they are keeping it alive.
     
  3. MizOre

    MizOre TalkEmount Regular

    84
    Jan 18, 2014
    Nicaragua
    Actually, they're teaching computer classes in one of the weaveries which I suspect is more what the young kids want. It's not alive -- the backstrap weaving tradition has been effectively dead as a way for women to make household textiles for themselves and their families since the 1940s (and it was killed so the women would move into cash crop agriculture). The weavers are dressed in imported clothes. What they've brought in is craft weaving, similar to production craft hand weaving in the US. Guatemala has a surviving tradition of back strap weaving for domestic use. The Mayan women don't sell the best weaving and resent being photographed as the unpaid tourist attractions.

    My driver and I talked about it -- it's like the ghost of the old traditional weaving. I've seen the ghosts of the old clothing types in some modern Nicaraguan clothes made of machine woven cloth, but nobody is making clothes by hand from locally hand spun and hand woven cloth. They set up the backstrap looms when they expect tourists, apparently.
     
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  4. davect01

    davect01 Super Moderator

    Aug 20, 2011
    Fountain Hills, AZ
    Dave
    Oh, thats a bit more sad.

    However, you can not blame them for not wanting to do what the older generation did.
     
  5. MizOre

    MizOre TalkEmount Regular

    84
    Jan 18, 2014
    Nicaragua
    What happened was that a traditional culture with many interlocking parts (men did hunting, breaking land, making furniture and doing other heavy lifting, women made clothes from "wild" cotton (not sure how wild it actually was, but not strains used in commercial cotton growing), cooked (which meant starting from dried corn, processing it with calcium chloride or wood ash lye, grinding it on metates), and probably tended the gardens. Very little income in cash (neither socialist or capitalist governments want a high portion of their population to live like this because they don't pay taxes). I can go back to my grandmother's grandmother for this pre-1912 (rise of industrial production of cigarettes) for this to have been the way of life for my ancestors. Many of these cultures fought to preserve that way of life -- here, it was the Coffee Wars.

    Somoza wanted more tax money. The FSLN set up weaving for sale so the community could make more cash money. The current weavers are buying yarn from Guatemala (machine produced) and doing most of the weaving on four harness floor looms that look like imported Swedish looms. Parts of Guatemala still have women weaving for their families on back strap looms. Other parts, it's for the tourists. When weaving was for the family, it was a big part of the day, but not the whole of eight hours on weaving alone.

    When Cardenal's Argentinian advisor began talking to the women, some of them were afraid to admit they knew how to weave because they didn't trust any Spanish government (urban people who are more culturally Spanish than indigenous) to have their best interests at heart.

    Those were teenagers weaving on the floor looms. It's nicer than working in a factory, I suspect. Everyone now who has any money at all has a cell phone, and people in the middle of the country, out in the campo, have Facebook accounts.

    I don't think "want" particularly had anything to do with it. In a subsistence culture, weaving at home for the family fits in with a range of other activities. Absent those other activities, weaving for a household is not well-supported. So, the weavers go to a purpose built building and put in a full day weaving for goods to be sold in the tourist markets. And it's not part of how a woman cares for her family anymore in Nicaragua. I also know women who make tortillas for sale but can't afford to eat them themselves, but eat rice (commercially grown) and beans instead. Their tortillas are more valuable as sales items than they are as food for the family, but they buy the dough from small scale factories, so even that is dependent on cash.
     
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  6. MizOre

    MizOre TalkEmount Regular

    84
    Jan 18, 2014
    Nicaragua
    I'd also like to remind people that all of these photos were taken with the 18-55mm black kit lens that came with the a3000. One other in the group was taken by the 16mm f/2.8.
     
  7. Pitter

    Pitter TalkEmount Veteran

    Wonderful photos. Thanks for taking us on the tour.
     
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