El Tejedor de Historias
The Tzotzil designer Alberto López not only exalts the name of Mexico and the exquisite textile work of the State of Chiapas, but he is also breaking all grounds and stereotypes. Born in Aldama, a small town located in one of the poorest and most forgotten areas of Mexico, Alberto grew up doing the tasks that, according to the traditions of his people, are inherent to the male sex: planting and harvesting. In the indigenous communities of Chiapas, women are those who learn, practice, and passing-down the ancient textile traditions, one of Mexico’s most important artistic and cultural manifestations. Men are focused on the farm labors.
Alberto’s passion for weaving took him to defy all rules and prejudices, as he decided to invest all of his time in learning and perfecting his skills in the waist loom. He was always supported by his mother, his sisters, and other female members of his family.
His personal story and his work were known thanks to a video created by the German Network for Human Rights in Mexico. The video tells Alberto’s story and shows some of the ceremonial huipiles of his creation. In 2020, Alberto presented his collection at the New York Fashion Week, one of the world’s main fashion events. Today, this talented Mexican has his brand of hand-made clothing, K’uxul Pok, which employs 150 female weavers of Aldama, contributing to improving their life quality and preserving this valuable tradition.
Who are the Tzotzil people?
The Tzotzil are a Mexican indigenous population descendant of the Mayan people who live in the area of los Altos de Chiapas. The word Tzotzil means “bat people”, and they call themselves “batsi winik’otik”, which means “true people”. Their language also descends from the ancient Mayan language that was spoken in cities like Palenque or Yaxchilán. For these people, their language represents a particular pride and the essence of their roots, so most of them speak only Tzotzil as a way to preserve their culture, although many of them also speak Spanish. Today, there are 300 thousand people of this ethnic group, who make a living out of agriculture and the making of their extraordinary crafts, from which the most outstanding are the textile works made in waist loom.