Woven in Love • Women in Ecuador & Santa Fe Unite in Kindness

Woven in Love • Women in Ecuador & Santa Fe Unite in Kindness

La Mega Copoerativa Artesanal de los Saraguros

Somewhere in the southern highlands of Ecuador a woman sits and quietly draws one strand of thread to loop directly over the thread above, rather than passing through a bead, the ‘usual’ way of bead weaving. She is duplicating a beautiful floral pattern that lives only in her head. Later she will present this pattern to her community of bead workers and they will memorize the pattern in their heads.And this is how the tradition of beadwork continues in Saraguro.

Text by Jodi Winsor • Photos by Jennifer Esperanza

Keep Reading …. 

Model Serena Penaloza • Design Jodie Winsor • Lighting Gabriel Kessler • Photo © Jennifer Esperanza

Model Serena Penaloza • Design Jodie Winsor • Lighting Gabriel Kessler • Photo © Jennifer Esperanza

La Mega Copoerativa Artesanal de los Saraguros

Five women’s organizations joined together in 2010 to create La Mega Cooperativa Artesanal de los Saraguros to market Saraguro beadwork internationally. Through their beadwork these artists educate their children, support their communities and a women’s shelter. All five groups have created microloan programs for their members, which have enabled them to surmount crises, buy equipment to improve their artisan activities, and increase the welfare of their families in general. All together there are 80 members of La Mega Cooperativa Artesanal: 78 women and 2 men. The purchase of their jewelry has an impact on many lives and many families in Saraguro.

La Mega Copoerativa Artesanal de los Saraguros

La Mega Copoerativa Artesanal de los Saraguros

La Mega Copoerativa Artesanal de los Saraguros

La Mega Copoerativa Artesanal de los Saraguros

La Mega Copoerativa Artesanal de los Saraguros

La Mega Copoerativa Artesanal de los Saraguros

Who are the Saraguros?

The Saraguros are subsistence dairy farmers who live in southern highland Ecuador, living at an elevation of 8500 feet, growing most of their own food—corn, beans, squash, babacos and tree tomatoes, and herding cattle and sheep. They are proud of their Incan ancestry, but their bead art does not come from that heritage. The need for pasture for their cattle led them to cross the Andes into the eastern slopes of Ecuador about a century ago. The Shuar who inhabited that region wore necklaces made of glass seed beads made in the Czech Republic that they acquired through trade up the Amazon River. They traded beads for cheese with the Saraguros. Saraguro girls and women wear the bead collars daily.  

Jodie Windsor & models Julia Fullerton & Serena Penaloza wearing beautiful beaded necklaces & holding photos of La Mega artists  • Santa Fe New Mexico • Photo © Jennifer Esperanza

Jodie Windsor & models Julia Fullerton & Serena Penaloza wearing beautiful beaded necklaces & holding photos of La Mega artists • Santa Fe New Mexico • Photo © Jennifer Esperanza

 

There is no other bead work like this on the planet. 

How the Saraguros learned to weave these beads with techniques unknown to other indigenous peoples of South America remains a mystery. And, you might wonder how it is that Saraguro necklaces lie so beautifully around your neck. Their beading techniques require careful attention to thread tension (not too tight) but it is more than that. Their jewelry is constructed horizontally, and they have developed stitches in which the thread loops directly over the thread above, rather than passing through a bead, the ‘usual’ way of bead weaving.  

This technique gives them much more flexibility in developing creative new patterns. Saraguro 
bead artists develop and hold all their patterns in their heads. They do not use any written instructions or illustrations. When someone develops a new pattern, the others study it and soon are replicating this pattern themselves.

Designer, Art Director & Humanitarian Jodi Winsor

Designer, Art Director & Humanitarian Jodei Winsor • Photo © Jennifer Esperanza

When I asked Jodie to explain what she does this was her answer:

 
“In my world, coming from a fine art and yoga background, marketing and branding can be dirty words. In reality they are not. Good marketing makes dreams come true, heals people and saves lives. This may sound dramatic but in my life it is true. I used to yearn to be able to do something to make this world a better place to be however, I felt powerless to be able to do anything as I was working hard enough to sustain myself. Then I realized I could. We all can, in our own way, with what we were given.
 

I like to help people fulfill their true potential. This can be measured by a company increasing its revenue stream, an artist realizing their vision, a yoga teacher authentically sharing her truth, a non-profit fulfilling its mission, a holistic health care practitioner healing people, a lawyer building their clientele or an indigenous tribe supporting and feeding its community. 

 
You are a great example of an artist with a strong vision who gives back. When
I asked you to photograph a catalog to support the indigenious Saraguro bead workers of Ecuador as a charity project you didn’t even hesitate. Karen Domenici, my partner in the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market’s Long Term Mentor to Market program and I were amazed.
Our job was made easy because Julia R. Fullerton, Serena PenalozaOfelia NievesLenore Gallegos, Nico Sidoti of Greener Graphics, Robert Puglla, Anne Severine, Cailyn Kilcup and Nella Domenici all volunteered to help the Saraguro bead workers.
We were guided by Linda Belote, an anthroplogist who first met the Saraguro people (and her husband) in Ecuador as a PeaceCorp volunteer 51 years ago.
We each have a certain talent or skills set and when we put them all together and use them to serve others… well… things can change. AND, that just makes you sleep really well at night.” 
Jodie featured in Green Planet • THE magazine • Photo © Jennifer Esperanza

Jodie featured in Green Planet • THE magazine • Photo © Jennifer Esperanza

Please visit The Santa Fe International Folk Art Market this coming weekend to see this beautiful art work woven in love.

Blessings & Kindness Always,

Jennifer Esperanza

Jennifer Esperanza Photography

Jennifer Esperanza Photography

 

 

2 Comments

  • Alexandra Eldridge

    10.07.2013 at 07:41 Reply

    So beautiful, Jennifer. Forever supporting and promoting that which matters! thank-you, Alexandra

Post a Comment