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The weaving tradition of the Zapotec people from Oaxaca, Mexico dates back to approximately 500 B.C. While it has changed little in terms of its decorative symbolism, it adopted the bi-standing pedal loom, as well as stronger fibres, from the Spanish conquistadores on their arrival in the 1500s. According to Spanish custom, men also took over the craft from women, until gender equality and the need for extra income attracted many women back to their ancient craft.

However, fierce competition, and decreasing tourism due to political unrest and drug trafficking, led many artisans to leave the region or even the country in search of a better future. When Manos Zapoteca's founder and CEO Shelley Tennyson first visited the region of Teotitlán del Valle on a microcredit mission, she realised that a fair trade project could be a way to sustain both the Zapoteca community and their craft in the future.

She eventually founded Manos Zapotecas, which is a member of the Fair Trade Federation, in 2012, and started selling the beautiful Zapotecas bag to artisan craft fans all over the world.

Watch the Manos Zapotecas's story in the following video and get to know its amazing artisans.


All images via manoszapotecas.com.

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