My friend Olga led me through the crowded Sunday market at Chichicastenango, past the textile vendors and into the area where men break chunks of calcium hydroxide to nixtamal corn for tamales to a very special stall where an elderly man sells traditional market bags handspun from the agave plant, called maguey or henequen. These bags are made by villagers using knitting or crochet techniques and the smaller versions are used in Mayan healing ceremonies to hold incense, offerings and other items.
These bags are densely constructed: handknit or crocheted from handspun fiber with an adjustable strap and designed to last for years. Look carefully at the strap: it’s a looped or netted textile technique and incorporates seamlessly into the design. Generously sized as a cross-body or a shoulder bag, they will hold a lot of farmer’s market goodies.
The bags come in a small, striped crocheted bag, a large striped crochet bag, and a large and extra large plain knit or crocheted bag. As each bag is handmade, the sizes and even the width of the brown stripes will vary. Approximate dimensions are given for each bag.