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University of Utah Press
To Think with a Good Heart: Wixarika Women, Weavers, and Shamans

To Think with a Good Heart: Wixarika Women, Weavers, and Shamans

by Stacy Schaefer


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For centuries the Huichol Indian women of western Mexico, or Wixárika, as they prefer to call themselves, have been weaving textiles on backstrap looms. Since precolumbian times their family weaving traditions have been passed down from mother to daughter and from grandmother to granddaughter. Backstrap loom weaving is much more than either an art form or a means of creating utilitarian objects; it is a part of a woman's identity and a way of expressing ancient religious beliefs. Her weavings are a means to spiritual growth as well as a mirror of the changes and transformations she undergoes as she follows her life's path.

In 1985 Stacy Schaefer undertook ethnographic fieldwork apprenticing with master weavers in two Waxárika families. To Think with a Good Heart addresses both the technology of weaving as well the dramas and personalities in a community. This a fascinating journey into a realm of ancient beliefs and traditions woven into the story of a way of life constantly threatened by the outside world.

From the book: To become a weaver is to learn the women's customs, for weaving is the reason for living. When you are teaching yourself to weave you are given the power to think with the gods. It is a very beautiful thing to think this way, because weaving is very ancient. That's how I think.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780874806953
Publisher: University of Utah Press
Publication date: 05/28/2002
Edition description: 1st Edition
Pages: 376
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Stacy B. Schaefer is director of the Museum of Anthropology and assistant professor of anthropology, California State University, Chico.

Table of Contents

List of Figures
List of Plates
Preface: The Art of Thinking with a Good Heart
Introduction: Spinning the Thread

1. Origins of Flesh and Fabric
2. Two Families of Women and Their Weaving Ways
3. Women and Men
4. Weaving from Girls to Women
5. The Economics of Weaving
6. Awakening the Heart Memory: The Religious Aspects of Weaving
7. The Art of Weaving Symbols
8. Weavers, Shamans, and Goddesses
Epilogue: Weaving the Future

Appendix A: Weaving Technology
Appendix B: Wixárika Female Names


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