Weaving: From Thread to Fabric

Once fiber is spun into thread, it can be woven into fabric, perhaps the most difficult step in the entire process of producing textiles. Mayan people have achieved great skill as weavers, and in some families, these skills have been passed down from generation to generation for hundreds of years.

Based on archaeological information and on accounts from the late prehistoric and early historic periods, we know that the backstrap loom was used by almost all cultures throughout Mesoamerica. This is a fairly simple and mobile type of loom, as it largely consists of sticks and a strap worn around the weaver's waist to apply tension to the threads as the fabric is woven.

Once Europeans arrived, however, they introduced their own weaving technology, the treadle loom. The treadle loom never completely replaced the backstrap loom, and the two types of looms coexist to this day.

Other special types of weaving are used to produce items like hair ribbons, rope, and shoulder bags.