The Wapisiana Hammocks are made by the Rupununi Weavers Society, a group of Amerindian women and men living in villages spread across some 5000 square miles of remote grassland and rainforest in south-western Guyana bordering Brazil and Suriname.
Each hammock is woven individually in the homes of the women in the Society from cotton sewn, reaped and spun by hand involving some 150 spinners in numerous villages across the savannahs. The cotton is softer and stronger than any machine manufactured cotton. It takes approximately 12 pounds of hand spun cotton to make one hammock.
By 1990 however, the ancient art of hand woven cotton hammock was all but lost. Many Amerindian homes had old traditional weaving frames but they were no longer in use. Few women retained the skills for weaving and were too poor to give their time and energy to such an intricate task. Subsistence farming to feed their families was their first and often their only priority.
In 1991, an English Volunteer Service Organization, volunteer, Matthew Squire, got together with Amerindian translator and Rupununi native, Alma OConnell, and skilled Wapisiana weaver, Clarista Adrian to revitalize this traditional art.
In 1994 the British Museums Acquisition board purchased, from RWS, a hammock for their collection of tribal fabric art.
In the same year, one of the worlds largest hotel chains purchased two, for presentation to Queen Elizabeth of England and her husband Prince Phillip.
Traditionally a woman's wedding gift to her husband, the hammock will give beauty to any surroundings exquisitely wrought as they are from hundreds of hours of pain-staking hand work.
Hammock Making | Order Form | RWS Program | RWS Museum
Junior Archeology | Travel & Tourism