"I'd like to live for many more years. I have a lot of energy and I have a plan in mind for my life."
"My greatest inspiration is the Maya culture, its symbology, my roots.
"I'm Maria Patishtan. I was born in a small Maya village in Chiapas. When I was just a girl, my mother taught me to weave using wool on a backstrap loom. She did a lot of weaving.
"My mother knew how to weave in the style of San Juan Chamula. She also knew how to weave blankets and cushions in the brightly colored style of Tenejapa, decorated with roses in red and fuchsia.
"When my father died, my mother supported us with her weavings. I remember her working at her loom and just from watching her, I learned.
"I married when I was 15 but I had just turned 17 when my husband died. I didn't have any way to feed my children but, amid my desperation, I met Marta Turok, who worked with the Instituto Indigenista de México. I started working with her and selling my handicrafts.
"I began working and working. I took many trips to Mexico City and worked on my weaving there, too. I sold my designs in the Museum of Popular Arts. I looked after my work to be sure it was good. At one time, Marta and I had 88 artisans working with us. They even consider me a grand master artisan.
"When things in my life were getting better, some of my neighbors in the village began feeling jealous. They started all kinds of gossip about me and I couldn't stop laughing at the outlandish things they were saying.
"I work mostly in wool, which I dye with colors we obtain from plants. We boil them in water until they release their colors, then add the skeins of yarn and continue boiling it all. When the color is right, we add salt, vinegar, copper sulfate or other substances to fix the colors. Collecting the materials is what I enjoy most.
"I'm fascinated by our ceremonial huipil blouses and their colors. Sadly, this is a custom that's about to disappear. This special huipil is made from three pieces of fabric woven on a backstrap loom with the tafetán technique, a kind of silk weave. With it, we can achieve a brocade effect in colors. The fabric is sewn together in the form of a cross, alluding to the universe. The colors refer to time and space. The back is north, the front is south. The right shoulder is east and the left shoulder is west.
"I'd like to live for many more years. I have a lot of energy and I have a plan in mind for my life. I have the idea of buying a car, a Volkswagen van, and I'll continue working with my grandchildren. In our car, we'll go wherever we want and, with my granddaughter Petrona, I'll continue passing on these beautiful skills."