Master Weaver Rosa Rosales
I am very pleased to introduce Master Weaver Rosa Rosales as one of our new MayaWeavings partners. Someone once described Rosa's weaving as Healing Cloth. Perhaps it is the medicinal properties of the plant dyes, perhaps it is her own graceful self.
Not only are her weavings gorgeous, Rosa just happens to be one of my favorite people in the whole world. We met 5 years ago when I was looking for a quiet place to stay while continuing my Spanish studies. At the time she was managing a small hotel in San Juan La Laguna where I ended up staying for nearly a month.
With her open, gracious, and joking manner, we soon became friends.
Hers were the first weavings I purchased in San Juan and her rebozo Sweet Earth is modeled after one of these. As well as her skill as a weaver, she is an excellent and patient teacher. Under her tutelage I wove my first backstrap loom scarf.
I kept in touch with Rosa while living in the highlands of Guatemala and Majo was in the orphanage and when we were able to move here, she helped us find our first home.
Rosa was born near the western coast of Guatemala in a town where the women did not weave. As a teenager her family moved to San Juan to find work and it was here as a 17 year old that Rosa learned to weave. She quickly adapted to living in San Juan and within 6 months was fluent in the local language, making her quadrilingual. She speaks 3 distinct Maya languages and Spanish. Rosa taught her younger sister Ofelia how to weave as well as her daughter Elizabeth. She sometimes sells her weavings through a cooperative, but prefers to work independently and on order.
Rosa lives with her extended family (parents, 2 siblings, a niece and nephew and 2 of her 3 children) in a small home near the edge of town and where Majo and I frequently visit. At 87 her father still goes to work in the coffee fields everyday, now accompanied by her 20 year old son.
For the last couple of years Rosa has been working for a family that sells handwoven fabric made on huge homemade floor looms. When she has time, she's been learning how to weave on the floor looms - a completely different manner of weaving which she is enjoying learning. In her spare time she continues creating backstrap loom weavings. When I asked her recently what she enjoys the most about weaving she said it's the creative aspect - choosing the design and finding just the right colors. She once told me that the colors have to enjoy sitting next to each other on the design, or the weaving will not come out well.