Peruvian Connection: Celebrating 30 Years A Newsletter Celebrating Andean Art & Culture.
Traditional Textiles of Cusco

The Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco was established in 1996 as a non-profit organization aiming to revive and preserve Incan textile traditions and to provide support for the regional weaving communities. Their focus is on marketing fine quality weavings, ensuring the future of the craft, and educating locals and visitors on the value of this rich cultural tradition. The CTTC supports groups of weavers in nine Peruvian communities by organizing weaving centers, helping them to hone their skills in reproducing the complex designs and techniques of their Incan ancestors, and marketing their work through retail channels. The weaving communities are spread throughout the department of Cusco, Peru and include Chinchero, Pitumarca, Chahuaytiri, Accha Alta, Patabamba, Mahuaypampa, Sallac, Santo Tomas and Acopia.

The village of Chinchero, Peru, at an altitude of more than 12,000 feet, is known as the "birthplace of the rainbow". The weavers of Chinchero are known for their high quality intricate textiles produced with very fine hand spun yarns, naturally dyed colors, and a complimentary warp technique. This group of weavers started working with CTTC in the 80's with the hope of reviving textile traditions at a time when only the elders were weaving and the younger generations had lost interest in the craft. The revival of natural dyes started 10 years ago with this group of weavers - today, their colors are intense and varied.

The children's group, called the Jakima Club, started 15 years ago with the objective of teaching the old traditions to the younger generations. Jakimas are narrow woven bands that the children weave to practice the techniques and designs. The children learn to weave this way so that little by little, they gain experience and can work up to the more complex patterns. The CTTC encourages and rewards weaving skills through a program of competitions. In a recent competition, Chinchero weavers were challenged to reproduce the 500 year old textile recovered in the snowy tomb of the mummy "Ice Maiden", recovered in 1996 in the volcanic mountains near Arequipa, Peru.

Chahuaytiri is a highland community where the men weave most of the large textiles, noted for their supplementary warp technique and dark red and purple colors. The women prepare and dye the yarn, and finish the textiles with borders called Nawi Awapas or "woven eyes". The women also produce finely woven beaded watanas for their hats, and weave smaller textiles such as bags or chuspas.

The CTTC headquarters in Cusco includes a retail gallery where the weavers demonstrate their skills and sell their crafts, as well as a museum exhibiting the origins and techniques involved in traditional Andean textiles. Displays cover the weaving process from fiber collection, to dyeing, to weaving, and finally to their place in Andean life.
Shown: Pascuala, CTTC weaver The sale of my weavings helps me a lot with the education of my children.  As a widow, I am responsible for the total cost for the education of my children, although the oldest are already a little independent because they are already working. Without the profits from my weavings, it would be impossible to manage only with farming.
Shown: Pisac Bag
Left: The Pisac Bag is handwoven in the Andes of vegetal dyed wool (90%) and alpaca (10%), with a long shoulder strap and festive fringe trim.
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Right: A traditional Andean Chumpi Belt is handwoven by a Quechua weaver in colorful wool (90%) and alpaca (10%).
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Shown: Chumpi Belt
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