Our Story

The ruins of a replica temple at Punta Sur, where Francisco Hernández de Córdoba encountered Maya statues of women in 1517.

The ruins of a replica temple at Punta Sur, where Francisco Hernández de Córdoba encountered Maya statues of women in 1517.

Twenty years in the making, Xkeban is a Mexican-American partnership that is dedicated to celebrating indigenous culture and community while supporting sustainable tourism efforts. To us, that means making sure that that the local community reaps the benefits from that tourism. We are starting with Isla Mujeres, a place that is dear to our hearts.

At Xkeban, our mission is to offer authentic, tangible memories for cultured travelers...while supporting host communities.

Our project grew out of social scientific research conducted with the help of the community of Isla Mujeres, Mexico in the late 1990s. 

How Did Isla Mujeres Get Her Name?

Most historians agree that Isla Mujeres was “discovered” and named by Francisco Hernández de Córdoba in 1517, 500 years ago. In reality, though, a community on the island had been established long before that, as made clear by what the Spaniards found there. In fact, Isla Mujeres was the site of the first intentional contact between Europeans and peoples indigenous to Mexico.

Father Juan de Torquemada (1562-1624) was among the first to describe this event in 1615:

In the year 1517, Francisco Hernández de Córdoba ... outfitted three ships ... and they happened to discover the Land of Yucatan, a coast which until then was unknown ... In one place, there are some very large and good salt ponds (salinas), and Cordoba called it “the Island of the Women" because they had stone towers there ...  in which were placed, in very careful order, many idols that looked like women….” (p. 349).

Other contemporary accounts described the statues as having the appearance of "women and demons." 

But what did those statues really look like?

The head of a broken statue that Augustus Le Plongeon found buried in front of the temple at Punta Sur in 1876. It was from statues like this one that Isla Mujeres took her name.

The head of a broken statue that Augustus Le Plongeon found buried in front of the temple at Punta Sur in 1876. It was from statues like this one that Isla Mujeres took her name.

In 1876, a French archaeologist, Augustus Le Plongeon, found one of those statues still buried in front of the altar near the temple on Punta Sur. However, it was broken as the team retrieved it from the sandy soil. All that was left intact were the head and the feet of the statue. 

Photographs and an account of the expedition were in turn unearthed during the research that was conducted in the 1990s.

And so, the idea was born to make souvenir products that paid homage to the pre-Columbian culture of Isla Mujeres. It was also decided that half of the money raised by sales would go to making life better for the islanders, and half of it would go to sustaining further production.

For each Isla Mujeres product that we sell, we will donate at least 50% of the profits to charities and other aid projects on Isla Mujeres. Always.

And that is our story at Xkeban. That is what we are doing, fulfilling a promise and giving back to a community that took us in. Join us as we thank Isla Mujeres and her people by vising our Online Store and purchasing a Limited Edition T-shirt today! While we will be producing more unique products in the future, this limited edition will sell out fast, and when they are gone, they will be gone!