The Jaspe Dyers


A traditional planting and harvest dance. The women's cortes (skirts) are all jaspe cloth.
A traditional planting and harvest dance. The women’s cortes (skirts) are all jaspe cloth.

Jaspe – pronounced HAH spay – is the word used in Guatemala for ikat, a mega-complicated tie dye process that is applied to yarn before it is woven. The designs show up in the final cloth, can run either horizontally (warp) or vertically (weft). Or both.


sharing page 61 600Many steps are involved, of which the actual dyeing of the threads is only one and takes place about 2/3 of the way through the process. In December I had the treat of again visiting the dyers whose pictures are in Tere’s and my book Traditional Weavers of Guatemala – Their Stories, Their Lives. It was the first time they had seen the book, and it was really fun to see their excitement at seeing pictures of themselves on the printed page. They were as thrilled as we were that we were leaving a copy with them. Now they can show it to all of their family, friends, and dye clients.

dye family reduced pic

The dye house is a family business, with additional dyers hired when business is good. On a full day they can dye 500 pounds (dry weight) of cotton yarn. There are jobs for everyone, even the littlest; the kids work after school.




(Note: Most of these pictures were taken with a cell phone, all I had with me. If you want to see really good ones, taken by the ever-amazing Joe Coca, get the book and look on pages 60 and 61. They are worth the price of admission.)



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