Guatemala, with its combination of Mayan and Spanish influences, boasts rich culture and history and is the centre-most country in the Americas.
The organisation De la Selva, literally “from the Mayan people to you”, was established back in 1991 and works with crafts artisans throughout Guatemala. With their head office based in San Juan del Obispo, La Antigua, the majority of the actual production takes place in the homes of Maya descendants – who live in small communities in the highlands and lowlands of Guatemala.
De la Selva’s mission is to make the indigenous communities it works with self-sufficient so that they and their families are able to live a better life. It has been able to ensure clean drinking water, improve local infrastructure in various regions of the country, build schools, improve waste management and support many other developmental projects.
The main product De la Selva produces is the “worry doll” which is a traditional handicraft primarily for children to help them sleep peacefully. These dolls are small, usually ranging from half an inch to two inches tall.
The production of worry dolls is carried out by the Mayan people living in rural areas, which explains the colourful clothing of the dolls – the textiles woven by the Mayans to create their everyday clothes are the same textiles that the dolls are clothed with. Other materials commonly needed to produce worry dolls are cotton or sponge, which is used for the head and thin wires or woods, which are used for the hands and feet.
The production of worry dolls is a craft which has been passed down from one Mayan generation to the next.If you don’t know the story…
The Mayans believed that there are “Worry people”. You should whisper your worries to these, your special worry dolls (one worry per doll) and then, later that night, you should place your Worry Dolls under the bed, the hammock, the pillow, or the leaves you sleep on. When you wake up refreshed the next morning, the worry dolls will have taken your worries away!
Children may form a special bond with their worry dolls, treating them as their closest friends who listen to their stories and secrets and you may never have to feel alone again!