Artisan Spotlight: LEMA Association

LEMA is a women's cooperate with a small storefront in the center of San Juan La Laguna. Run by group leader, Rosa, these female weavers are dedicated to preserving the tradition of using natural dyes. Using these ancestral techniques, they extract colors from tree bark, vegetables, coconut shells and leaves, to give organic color to the items they weave.

In the Maya language Tz’utujil, LEMA meads "arbol de llamo" which is a specific plant used in the natural dye method. This artisanal knowledge has been preserved over time and has been passed down from generation to generation. Learning directly from her grandmother, Rosa harnesses these ancient techniques using only local plants to dye organic cotton. 

The LEMA group officially came together in 1999 when Rosa united the women in her community who were struggling to make ends meet. At that time, tourists rarely explored San Juan, one of the tiniest villages on Lake Atitlan. And of course, local job opportunities were scarce. Rosa decided to harness her ancestors’ talents and create new innovative designs using this ancient technique. LEMA women were trailblazers in their village of San Juan and this idea of using these customary tinting practices as a means of income in the face of severe financial hardship expanded to other women’s groups.

In their store, you will find tablecloths, place mats, hammocks, scarves and much more. Their entire collection exude this natural pastel feeling with unique high-quality designs unique to the area. Rosa and the women in her community work closely to uphold this traditional art form and are eager to share these botanical designs with the world.

Shop and support the women weavers and female artisans of the LEMA Association  here⇠ 

Contact us directly to book an immersion tour with Rosa to see the natural dye process firsthand and learn to weave your own scarf!


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