Ofelia Madariaga y Gloria Leticia Villajuana, Euan, Municipio de Tixcocob, Yucatán

Ofelia Madariaga y Gloria Leticia Villajuana, Euan, Municipio de Tixcocob, Yucatán

The hammocks made by Ofelia Madariaga and the Villajuana family are not ordinary hammocks. Hammocks become a work of art when made by the hands of these two families. The Villajuana family is featured in the landmark book "Great Masters of Mexican Folk Art."

They use fibers from henequen or sisal and from sansevieria, a species of agave cactus known as "lengua de vaca" (cow's tongue) that grows wild in rock terrain and requires little water for survival. Its leaves are long and narrow with rounded tips, are spotted with various green tones and have yellow borders.

The technique of weaving, or corchado as it is called in Yucatán, follows a nearly extinct procedure from pre-Hispanic times. The strands of henequen or sansevieria are worked by hand, usually resting on the thigh, in a process both laborious and tiring yet which produces fine, soft, resilient hammocks.

This art of weaving hammocks has been passed down through the generations. They begin to work when quite young and husbands, children and grandchildren help with this arduous craft. Elena Villajuana used to weave the fibers in the pre-Hispanic fashion until her husband felt sorry for her and fabricated an ingenious device consisting of boards and a bicycle wheel that serves as a sort of distaff. Now, the younger women have perfected this technique.

The work starts early in the morning or late afternoon while the fiber is damp so as to prevent its breaking. Twisting the fibers by hand results in greater softness. The hammocks are formed using special wooden frames consisting of vertical, cylindrical posts over which two notched crossbars are placed. Before preparing the warp, the artisans wrap the thread they anticipate using on a wooden shuttle.

The border is woven first, passing the thread horizontally around the frame and executing a series of knots with the shuttle at regular intervals. Knot after knot, it takes about 20 turns to complete the border, after which they begin work on the body of the hammock, interweaving the threads on the shuttle with the warp threads.

When the body of the hammock is completed, it will have taken 160 to 200 passes, depending on the size of the hammock. The other border is finished with the same knotting process. Last is forming the ends of the hammock at whose points are fashioned large loops which provide the support from which the hammock hangs.

The sansevieria fibers are colored with natural dyes, obtaining a great variety of tones and combinations of them. They use traditional designs and each style demonstrates skill and imagination in making the hammock a beautiful, and cozy, place to rest.

Calle 12 No. 51 (enter at Calle 9 y Calle 11)

Euan, Municipio de Tixcocob, Yucatán

991 106 8378 Ofelia cellphone