María Patishtán Licanchitón, San Juan Chamula, Chiapas

María Patishtán Licanchitón, San Juan Chamula, Chiapas

La Cooperativa Agua y Monte SC de RL de CV was formed by seven indigenous artisans from the Náhuatl community of Pajapan in the Sierra de Santa Maria mountains of southern Veracruz where there is over 1,500 acres of tropical and rainforest. Unfortunately, the remaining forest is only 25% of what existed before the lands were cleared for farming. 

Although the cooperative does not own any of its own land, thanks to the principle artisans involved, they practice unity and equality and have succeeded in creating full-time employment for the seven partners, and are sometimes able to generate work for neighbors.

Due to mismanagement and destruction of forests, carpenter’s livelihoods have been harshly impacted as has plant life and organisms such as wild mushrooms, crabs that live in the mangrove areas, other natural plant life, plants with medicinal properties, birds, orchids and bromeliads, a palm common to this area, as well as marketable firewood.

A small group of carpenters came together to begin to reforest their land and to seek an alternative and a more rational use of their wood. Thus, The artisans do not use wood larger than a designated size as part of their reforestation project. Rather, they buy certified wood from the state of Quintana Roo.

Currently, over 30 different crafts are being developed, mainly for utilitarian objects such as bread knives, spoons, forks, candlesticks, etc. The products are sold, without intermediaries, to different stores throughout Mexico involved in eco-resources. Crafts are also sent to other states such as Yucatan, Oaxaca, Xalapa and Michoacán.

This cooperative is a member of the regional organization of the SieDoña Maria spent her whole life in the town of San Juan Chamula, a Mayan Tzotzil community a few kilometers from San Cristobal de las Casas and the most visited in the region of Los Altos.

When Doña Maria was young, in the 50's and 60's, women made their own clothes, but they did not make handmade clothes for others as they do now. Maria was widowed at the age of 25 with a young son and had to figure out how to earn enough money to support her family.

At that time, she did not know how to embroider or knit, so she turned to some of her acquaintances to teach her. She knew Pedro Meza, who founded the Sna Jolobil cooperative, and two young anthropologists Marta Turok and Chip Morris. With their support and direction she soon began to form a cooperative in Chamula and began weaving and embroidering her own clothing, as well as handcrafted clothing for sale to tourists. The name of her cooperative is Cooperativa de Mujeres Tejedoras del Rosario. Maria Patishtan has always been its president.  She is known to be a bold businesswoman, with indefatigable energy, nothing stops her, not even the fact that her Spanish is very poor.

Now the 45 women of the cooperative weave and embroider wool clothing that they dye with natural and synthetic colors, backpacks for men and women, small animals and dolls, and blouses that are made with rustic blankets and embroidered by hand.

If you visit Chiapas you must visit Doña Maria's store and her house behind the old church and cemetery at the entrance of Chamula. Marcelino or Petrona, her grandchildren, will be happy to show you their handicrafts.

Doña María appears in the book "Great Masters of Mexican Folk Art)”.

Domilcilio concido abajo del panteón municipal

Paraje Zetelton

San Juan Chamula cp 29320

967 706 6669 (nieto/grandson Marcelino)