Her hands speak volumes. And that is one large library of dimensions! When she sets up every day under the eucalyptus trees and sits on the ground to weave on her backstrap loom, so close to the ground, she nearly disappears, because she is part of the great earth itself. Yet that round Mayan elder under five feet tall takes up the space of a being with giant volume.
Her hands, especially, speak the kind of volume that means capacity. Her lifeforce comes to a focus in her hands. They are hands full of the skill, not only of her long life but of her mother’s, her grandmother’s, of generations of weavers before her. Hands full of familiarity with thread and cloth, with warp and woof, hands full of the practice of beauty; living beautifully, first of all, so her understanding of life’s wonder can flow from her daily life through her hands into her creations.
Watching her weave under the trees, there in front of the sacred lake, is like observing an encounter of the material world and the unseen one. Her hands seem to catch the angels in the air and give them an earthy home in her cloth. She also captures suffering, caresses it with her weaving hands, and sets it in the patterns of her cloth along with the angels. Her fingers have crooked joints. Perhaps the knots of her own suffering jump into thread to be of use, to make the handsome whole that can only come from a design which includes the suffering.
The veins in her hands stand out to announce her lifeblood, and make a thorough mapping of her long path. Her fingernails are thick and blunt and show the dark earth of her plein-air weaving studio. Her hands are old and swift, enigmatic and deft. She wears her Guadalupe medal hidden beneath her faded traje, the red woven dress of her people. Dark as La Morenita’s hands, the weaver’s hands pray as she works. The earnest work of her hands is no less than saving the world.
The hands of Conchita, Oaxacan weaver on the Ajijic lakeshore, do more than speak –they sing.