It seems that the Ecuadorian government under President Rafael Correa is interested in reclaiming traditional knowledge of its artisans, both in the present and in the past. This is the first government in all of Ecuador’s history that has taken such an interest! So, the four thousand year old cotton fiber tradition of Manabí Province in coastal Ecuador that I have been documenting since 1976, hopefully can now be rescued from obscurity by the civic center Cuidad Alfaro, located in the city of Montecristi, Manabí.
At Cuidad Alfaro’s request, I travelled there this past March in order to introduce this cotton fiber tradition represented by Doña Luz and her daughter, Trinidad who is the last active practitioner of this millenarian fiber art. Hopefully with the support of Cuidad Alfaro, which is planning to establish a “living” museum where 10 different key artisans of the Province can carry out their work, this spinning and weaving tradition will finally be recognized and valued. So things are moving ahead and Trinidad and I have recruited some youngsters from the village of Zapote to learn and carry on the tradition. Trinidad’s 9 year old niece, Melina, is learning how to spin, and another older teenage niece, Catalina was persuaded to learn how to weave a fancy patterned cotton saddlebag (alforja) after seeing Trinidad and I discuss it on a local TV station.
Especially significant for me during this short, week long trip was to have the opportunity to witness and capture on video the very moment Melina learned how to spin.