Valverde and one of her 'nasa' pieces. Valverde and one of her 'nasa' pieces.

Institute helps artisan launch her project

Metal products based on ancestral fishing technique of Comarca Lagunera

The creativity and ingenuity of a woman from Torreón, Coahuila, found motivation and financial support in the local chapter of the Women’s Institute.

Claudia Valverde has reinterpreted in metal the ancestral fishing technique known as nasa, in which a woven basket is used to trap fish.

The nasas were devised by the first inhabitants of the Comarca Lagunera region of the states of Coahuila and Durango. The Irritila, known later as Laguneros, were a group of at least 15 independent tribes that inhabited the region, known for the lakes that once quenched the otherwise arid landscape.

A public entrepreneurship program aimed at women first compelled Valverde to “look for something different, something that hadn’t been done before.”

Nasas are still being woven out of wicker, and Valverde made her first attempts with that material. It was a remark by an acquaintance who said she would like to use the nasa design as a candleholder that steered Valverde toward her final product.

Her unique and expertly crafted metal lampshades and keychains are a “faithful copy” of the original woven product.

With the support of the Women’s Institute Valverde not only learned how to work the metal but also received entrepreneurial training and an interest-free, 12,000-peso loan (about US $680) to kickstart her project.

Valverde told the newspaper Milenio that she is “trying to rescue our identity,” finding inspiration outside the longtime staples of the Comarca Lagunera region, namely grapes, cotton and the 21.8-meter-high Cristo de las Noas religious statue.

“The Comarca Lagunera is very rich, and after searching this is my final product: a nasa made out of metal. It is woven and instead of being mass produced, it is a handmade artisanal product.

“My hands give birth to the nasas,” continued Valverde, who described the completed product as a small work of art as no pieces end up looking the same. “They are unique. They’ll always be different.”

Given that many people don’t know the historic significance of a nasa, Valverde is considering teaming up in the future with someone who makes fish-shaped light bulbs, alluding in a way to the original purpose of the fishing baskets.

Valverde’s project is still small scale but she intends to start selling on social media.

For the time being, Valverde’s lamps and keychains are available in Mooreleando Todo el Día, the monthly flea market set up on Morelos street in Torreón the second Saturday of every month.

Her hand-woven lamps go for 250 pesos ($14), while the keychains are sold for 50 (less than $3).

Source: Milenio (sp)

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