Mama’s Weaving

Generational tradition

Music by Sarah Pirtle, © Discovery Center Music, BMI, 2009. The lyrics of the song were co-authored by Olivia Arthen, Alex Dibrindisi, Emma Kemp, Sarah Pirtle, Sophie Sharp, and Gina Whalen at Journey Camp, Deerfield, MA.

Lyrics

1. Like the corn the yarn is green.

Like the sky the yarn is blue.

Mama, I can’t keep my fingers moving. Teach me to do what you do.

 

Chorus:

And through the strings the shuttle flies Like the birds up in the skies.

When we weave, we turn again Like the waves upon the sand. The weaving grows in our hands.

 

2. For the sunset purple yarn. For the sunrise pink and red. For good luck I hold the yarn

When I’m sleeping in my bed.

 

Chorus:

And through the strings the shuttle flies Like the birds up in the skies.

When we weave, we turn again Like the waves upon the sand. The weaving grows in our hands.

 

3. Someday my daughter, too, may weave and make the branches of this tree.

This pattern’s passed a thousand years-- Through great-grandmother down to me.

 

Chorus:

And through the strings the shuttle flies Like the birds up in the skies.

When we weave, we turn again Like the waves upon the sand. The weaving grows in our hands.

Production: Recorded on “Pocketful of Wonder,” produced by A Gentle Wind. Used by permission. Engineered, mixed and mastered by Donald Person. Paul Strausman - guitar.

Learn more about A Gentle Wind recordings at http://www.gentlewind.com/gw1065.htm

The Story behind the Song:

I brought a long Guatemalan weaving of the Tree of Life design to Girls Week of  Journey Camp so that campers could hold it together and marvel at it. Five girls, ages 8 to 10 years-old, (names above) joined in a songwriting workshop where we imagined what it would be like to learn to weave that pattern and what it meant to the daughters.

MAYA WEAVING

According to The Guatemalan Rainbow by Gianni Vecchiato, “Mayan weaving is a celebration of feelings shared in common by an entire ethnic group.” Pre-Columbian motifs have been repeated year after year, generation after generation, preserving the meaningful symbols and culture.

A display of weaving at the Mariposa Museum in Peterborough, NH directed by David Blair explains, “Mayan Civilization is at least three thousand years old. The Mayan people still living in southern Mexico and Guatemala no longer live in the great temple cities of their ancestors, but they continue an unbroken tradition of superb weaving.”

The weavings on display at the museum took two to three months to complete. Customarily a girl who creates a weaving offers her first one to the Mayan Goddess Ixchel, who is now regarded as a Catholic saint. Telar de cintura is backstrap weaving. A warping frame is created using support sticks to make a loom. Huipils are blouses embroidered with traditional designs in bright colors.

RESOURCE ON MAYA WEAVING

Maya Arts and Crafts of Guatemala Coloring Book by Marilyn Anderson by contacting Coloring Book, Rights Action, 1830 Connecticut Ave. NW, Wash DC 20009.

MEANINGFUL SYMBOLS

The website mayandesign.com helps in the study of the variety of patterns, sharing the ways that weaving designs can indicate the calendar, the universe, ancestors, and flowery flags. Draw a symbol that feels meaningful or invent a symbol where each color has special meaning for you.

PASSING THE POWER ON

Imagine the long line of people in history who have cared about the next generation. Create a poem or drawing honoring them and sense them present today. At the Tree of Life School held at Red Gate Farm we sang about this: “The people before us learned ...” and then we filled in a skill such as “learned how to make pottery,” or “learned how to fish,” or “learned to make fire,” or “learned how to weave.” We end each verse: “and they passed it on.”