Yucatan Maya Communities

There are many Mayan artisan communities located in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. Alongside Maria/Maria, a local organization that partners with Mayan communities, we work with the artisans of Tekax, Xaya, Teabo, Huechen Balam, Kimbila, Ochil and Mérida.

The Yucatan Peninsula has a long and disruptive history, beginning with ancient Mayan sovereignty. Due to its relatively remote location to the rest of Mexico, the Yucatan has sheltered many of its communities from conquerors to developers, allowing its indigenous communities to maintain the traditions and rituals that date back centuries.

Starting in the 1960s, outsiders were able to access the Yucatan by air—previously there was only access by sea. With the explosion of airline travel, the Yucatan quickly became a hotspot for tourism with its untouched lands, gorgeous beaches, and entrancing ruins.

Tourism allowed the Mayan textile industry to grow and flourish, and local communities now enjoy a better quality of life as well as access to modern facilities and education. The women weavers of the Yucatan found liberation and economic independence by working with local organizations like Maria/Maria to sell their wares, and partnering with free platforms like Genesis Fair Trade, giving them direct access to the global market.

Zapotec

A culture that dates back over 2,500 years in the region that is now Oaxaca, the Zapotec bring their distinct and history-rich culture into their trade. As one of the oldest cultures in the world, the Zapotec speak Oto-manguean, an ancient family of Mesoamerican languages that has been around since 1500 BC. The Zapotec people have existed since the time of the Aztecs and many Zapotec artisans even created jewelry for Aztec rulers.

The Biidau is a collective that Genesis works alongside, purchasing products from 13 artisans who are responsible for dying, harvesting wool and linen, and weaving cultural masterpieces. The dying process is done completely by hand, beginning with mixing colors found wild in nature, and experimenting with combinations to achieve exactly the right vivid hue. The process of dye-making is time-consuming, but it is only one step in the artistry of weaving. The Zapotec’s craft takes patience, but the quality is undeniable, celebrating ancient roots and immersed in cultural history.

Today, the bags, purses, change pouches, and clutches Genesis buys are woven from heavy wool and sport bold, geometric patterns that have become a hallmark of the Zapotec work. These iconic patterns are often abstract representations of mountains, lightning, rain, and other pillars of nature.