Market production and exchange formed one of the essential backbones of Maya village and city life for centuries. Maya kings and queens created powerful economic empires based on overland trade routes, river canoe routes and maritime trade to exchange commodities as diverse as salt, chipped stone, textiles, honey, chocolate, incense, feathers, as well as richly ornate jade and obsidian ornaments and ritual artifacts. Essential everyday items were made by communities throughout the region, while non-local items were imported from wide-ranging highland and lowland Maya sites or from Central Mexico and southern Central America. Modern-day Mayan commerce and artisans continue to thrive in their homeland. The Witte Museum's Director of Retails Services Linda Gerber, travelled to Guatemala in January. Her stops included marketplaces in Antigua, Panajachell, and Guatemala’s largest marketplace, Chichicastenango. Linda returned to San Antonio with authentic clothing, textiles, jewelry, pottery and musical instruments. Linda plans to purchase more Mayan merchandise and work closely with the remarkable Maya co-ops of weavers and artisans who are carrying on the traditions of cultural preservation and modern innovation. These co-ops work in an ethic of fair trade which continues to empower indigenous Maya women, men and their families. The public will have a one-of-a kind chance to purchase these extraordinary products in its museum store as part of the experience of Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed.
Check out the gallery below for a behind-the-scenes snapshot of Linda’s journey.