The origins of palm weaving in Sinaloa date back to pre-Columbian times


Jesús Guadalupe Huayra is a resident of the city of Escuinapa, Sinaloa. He lives in the area known as Los Paredones, right next to the Siglo XXI boardwalk.

He is well known in town for his work: he makes knitted chairs with palm and wood, a type of trade that is almost on the verge of extinction, because very few people know how to make this kind of furniture.

Known by his family and friends as “Lupe”, even though he is only 36 years old, he has already 15 years of experience in this activity. “Lupe” learned this artisan craft from his grandfather Modesto Huayra, who has done these authentic works of art all of his life.

The work is totally rustic and no advanced tools are used whatsoever, every instrument is used based on the strength and knowledge of the artisan. Lupe uses a hammer, a mechanic drill (not electric) to bore the wood, and also a filler, which gives the piece a more aesthetic figure highlighting the chair’s details. And that’s about all the utensils he uses.

For the elaboration of a chair the palm is brought from the area of ​​the marsh. The most tender, called coyollo, is cut green and then dried for four or five days. Lupe dries the palm  on the boardwalk, under the intense rays of the sun.

Some of the products that are made in the municipality are exported to other states in Mexico. Photo: Pedro Quintero (Debate)

He explained that the wood is cut on the nearby hills. Guásima and algodoncillo are the types of palm trees used to make this furniture.

The work is also based on the cycles of the Moon. The artisan must know the right time to carve the wood and weave the palm, so it doesn’t fall prey to pests.

Once the palm is dry, it is put to soak a few minutes so it softens and then the craftsman begins to weave the palm on top of the wooden framework, which has already been shaped.

Lupe makes the so-called guajolota chairs, at a cost of 450 pesos each (about 24 USD), and tall chairs for children at 170 pesos (less than 10 USD). They have other styles, and they even make dining-sets.

As in any trade, there are highs and lows, because sometimes business is very slow and some other times Lupe has a lot of work to do.

At the moment he elaborates the chairs on request and he also makes repairs when the palm gets outworn.

The artisan concluded that there will always be a demand for these chairs, because people look for them as they are fresh and comfortable.

TMP Newsroom