Amber and textiles handicrafts from Chiapas, Mexico
When we visited the communities of ’16 de Febrero’ we found out that the area they live in is in one of the main amber producing areas in the world. And many people in the community – women as well as men make amber jewellery which they then sell. The amber jewellery is hand made – it’s really beautiful – they make bracelets, necklaces, ear-rings, rings and other items – it’s often also made with silver. We thought it was the kind of thing people here would like to buy. And so with the agreement of ’16 de Febrero’ we buy their jewellery at a fair price and all the money we make on the sales is then sent back to help towards the municipality’s autonomous health clinic and the local primary schools.
We also buy other items to sell here. For example the women in the Highlands of Chiapas are renowned for their skill in making textiles and embroidered items of clothing. So we buy items such as bags, tablemats and again send back the money from sales. What’s good about this is that we know that the artisans are getting a fair price for the items they make with no middleman taking a cut. This helps them and their families to supplement the little income they get and then when we send money back from the sales of merchandise we know that the whole community is going to benefit from the construction of the health clinic.
The women in the municipality have formed a textile co-operative. What we’d like to do is to find more outlets for their merchandise as well as for the amber. The ’16 de Febrero’ autonomous municipality have asked if we can do this because of course it’s very difficult for them. So if anyone has any ideas we’d like to hear from you.
The Women’s Collective told us:
“We are in struggle to be able to work. It is a sacrifice to do the work, it costs time and suffering. But now it is different, it is good in the Co-operative.
Normally we get paid a bad price for our work. It can be discouraging, but with the Co-operative we are encouraged to keep going forward. At times it is difficult but we go on with the struggle.
Now things are a bit better, due to our work. We now have some hope for the future through our hope that you will seek some more markets for our artesania, our handcrafts. We hope that this will not be your last visit, we hope to have more visits from you.”
The amber workers too work in a collective. When we met them in ’16 de Febrero’ they stressed how important the twinning was for them:
“The solidarity work you do is very important for us, it is the only road to follow. There are serious problems with finding a market for our work, there is no way to show or sell it. Apart from the “Dignity for Women” shops in Oventik and San Cristobal and the Solidarity Groups in Scotland, there are no economic possibilities for going out and promoting our work, the lack of a market is our biggest problem.
We live in an isolated situation. We want to get our products out more widely, at present we only have local and regional outlets.”
Through purchasing the amber and textile products from ’16 de Febrero’ you are giving practical help to the indigenous communities there. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for up to date information on all the products we have for sale.
Also, if you think you might be able to help us find new outlets for the products, we would love to hear from you.
Full range of Zapatista merchandise and information available in:
ACE Info Shop (Autonomous Centre of Edinburgh),
17 West Montgomery Place,
Edinburgh EH7 5HA
Tel 0131 557 6242
As at June 2008 open Tuesdays 1-4pm, Thursdays 6-8pm and Saturdays 11am-6pm
Textile bags and amber jewellery from ’16 de Febrero’ are available in:
One World Shop, by St Johns Church,
junction Lothian Road and Princes St,
Edinburgh EH2 4BJ
Tel 0131 229 4541
One World Shop,
100 Byres Rd,
Glasgow G12 8TB
Tel 0141 357 1567
Both open normal shop hours Mon – Saturday.
Shared Planet Society, Aberdeen
During term-time the Society normally run a fair-trade café at Aberdeen University where zapatista coffee and merchandise is available – hopefully continuing in the future.
Below are just a few of the many examples of amber jewellery and textiles we have available. There are new products coming in with every order, and all products are handmade and unique, so it is best to contact us to see what we have.