Saturday, July 17, 2010

Bearing Witness to a Dying Tradition

San Marcos at Lake Atitlan used to be covered in maguey plants, and harvested to turn into a fiber, and then sold as twine or made into bags. But since coffee plants took over [more profitable], finding a maguey plant in San Marcos is a rarity.

Meet José and his dad Lucas. Making the maguey into a fiber, and then bags has been tradition in their family for decades. But since the coffee plants took over, and the invention of plastic [used for twine], there is no demand for the fiber due to its laborious [note:expensive] process. José's only incentive for continuing this craft is to keep the tradition alive.

Our class had the special opportunity of bearing witness to this process. It is likely that José and Lucas' family are the only people that are still doing this in the world.

Cut the leaf from the plant

Hit the leaf. Be careful, the juice stings!

Let leaves sit in the lake for 5 days

Scrape to reveal fiber



The total process to make a bag takes about 25 days [!!].

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