When Chip Morris first arrived in Chiapas in 1972, the meaning of Maya textile symbols was nearly lost.
While living in the isolated village of San Andrés and learning the Tzotzil Maya language, he became
fascinated by the weaver's art. Having studied Chinese at Columbia University, he was especially interested
in symbolism. With grants from the National Geographic Society and the Smithsonian Institution, Chip
discovered the mythological, calendrical, and astronomical underpinnings of Highland Maya designs. His
analysis of costumes from Yaxchilan and Largartero revealed that contemporary Maya designs dated back
to Classic Maya civilization.
Along with research, Chip has devoted his career to preserving and promoting highland Maya weaving. He
is a co-founder of Sna Jolobil, an 800-member weaving cooperative based in San Cristóbal de Las Casas.
He has organized indigenous artisan groups throughout Chiapas, Yucatan, and Guatemala, and has established
community-run museums for the Lacandon Maya and the Itza of Peten. He is currently engaged in a long-term
study of costume changes among the highland Maya.
Chip received the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship Award for his groundbreaking ethnographic and archaeological
work. He is the author of Living Maya, along with numerous articles on textiles and artisan development programs.
A former director of Na Bolom, he lives in San Cristóbal de Las Casas. He spends his free time making mobile
sculptures out of spinning whorls and weaving swords.