Craftswomen   of  Chiapas


Recently in Chiapas, indigenous women began adapting their dolls to represent leaders of the Zapatista Army. The emergence of the Zapatista Dolls, the Tzotzil-Mayan craftswomen of Chamula say, is nothing more than economic. They insist that they are not Zapatistas.

Pre-Columbian techniques of weaving, dying and felting the wool of the sacred borego (sheep) to create fabric and thread for making the dolls. They say that in 1994 they began adding masks to their more traditional "Chamulita" dolls because of their appeal with international travelers flocking to Chiapas to observe the Zapatista situation.

Although the women of Chamula dominate the contemporary Zapatista doll markets, the history of such doll making may have more ideological roots.   It is believed amongst international observers that the original masked dolls of Chiapas were a direct result of the 1994 Zapatista Caracoles in San Andres.   There is no solid evidence to support this claim.   Oventik, the center of Zapatista government sells Zapatista dolls in their supply shop.   These dolls, however, are imported from the craftswomen of San Juan Chamula.