Way beyond language, food, and architecture is the trail of textiles,
something very dear to me for its intrinsic beauty as well as its inner story line, as seen by weavers, not historians. Nevertheless traditional weaving patterns and whatever stories they might contain are frequently neglected in favor of borrowed patterns, for whatever the reason. The path of Navajo rugs from Mexican serapes, via the Navajo weavers’ sojourn at Bosque Redondo in proximity to Mexican weavers is well documented. The path of Indonesian yarn-dyed ikat fabrics across the Pacific Ocean from Manila to Acapulco in the once-a-year galleon and on to the Mexican highlands and Guatemala is easily believable. The path of a particular modern weaving and dying design from the town of Solola’, Guatemala, back across that same ocean to the newly liberated country of East Timor is mind-boggling. The galleon trade has been discontinued for almost two hundred years. Many designs are universally geometric and easily conceivable from multiple sources. This is not one of those. This is an EXACT duplication of a design whose origin lies one hundred eighty degrees away any direction you go on the planet. There are not many bookstores in Dili, East Timor, and even fewer with color glossy photographs of Guatemalan weaving. An Iberian Spanish-Portuguese connection is possible, but remote and confusing, therefore improbable. There is no shortage of folk art cowboys roaming the globe looking for groovy goods for sale to sell. But the odds of one who knows Guatemalan textiles showing up in East Timor and finding that particular weaving must be about one in five or six billion, me, and I didn’t do it. The odds of someone weaving that style of piece there again have just improved. It did sell, after all.