The Integral Association of Chaquijya Artisan Women was founded in 1989 by several women in need of contributing to their family's economic situation and being able to bring food to their tables. Many of the women were widowed during Guatemala's civil war, and thus were forced to assume both parental roles with regards to the care of their children. Originally a group of 20, they were able to get a few floor looms and some yarn to be able to start working.<br><br>Getting started wasn't easy, recalls Cristina Par, who is now the president of the association. Even though we all knew how to weave, many had never left their communities. But since the need to be able to sell was so great, they started weaving all sorts of items, from bracelets to shawls and scarves, and they just made themselves venture into neighboring villages. <br><br>Then we began collaborating with Aj Quen, featured artisans] who supported our work and offered to train us further so we could improve our productivity as well as the quality of our work. Little by little, we have been receiving the support of other organizations including the F.A.O., as well as people volunteering their time to help us develop new designs.<br><br>Some of the founding members are no longer working with us, but their places have been taken by their daughters. Like us, they learned to weave at a very young age. We have achieved many goals, even those we never could have imagined reaching. Thanks to the training we have received, we are able to create our own designs by ourselves and we like to use bright colors. Everyone has the freedom to create whatever she wants and share her ideas.<br><br>Though things have not always been easy since we formed the association, we are very proud of our achievements. Both the civil war and the economic crisis have had a devastating impact on our families and communities. We have all been severely affected emotionally and mentally. Through our work, we've learned to pull though and be able to feed, dress and educate our children. <br><br>Now we have our own little office, a showroom, 12 available looms and a highly trained and experienced team. Our goal is to reach more shoppers ? we want the whole world to see our designs, which are woven with so much dedication. We want to have more work so we can provide better for our families, and be able to train more women living in the same conditions as we are.<br><br>I would like to thank everyone for appreciating our work, because every piece we make is woven in the same way we were taught by our mothers. By purchasing our textiles. you are helping preserve a legendary weaving tradition, and you are also sending us a message that our work is recognized and duly remunerated, and this is a dignified way of bringing food to our families.
In the Andes, the Land of the Four Corners, mountains are sacred. So is culture. The Nazca lines, the Wari glyphs, the Quipu knots and the complex multi-colored textiles of the Incas are all recorded and live on the work of contemporary Peruvian artisans.