Cusco Textiles - A Guide to Textiles from the Cusco Region of Peru
The production of textiles is alive and well in the Andes and continues to be an extremely important source of income for many mountain communities. Numerous weaving cooperatives exist and exhibitions of native textiles can be found throughout Cusco and in nearby markets such as Pisac and Chinchero.
The weavers practice skills that have been passed down from generation to generation. The designs, colours and quality of the textiles vary from one region to another and play and important part in defining personal and community identity. Many of the symbols portrayed on the weavings are visual metaphors representing the relationship that the Quechua people have with the physical and spiritual world around them.
Many of the textiles that you will find on sale in Cusco are hand woven from alpaca or sheep's wool. The yarn has been hand spun on drop-spindles and often coloured using natural dyes made from plant extracts, cochineal (extracted from an insect larvae) or mineral oxides. The weaving is then produced on a loom. Larger items such as shawls or ponchos may take several months to make. The weaver gains tremendous personal satisfaction upon completing such a weaving. In some markets such as in Chinchero the weavers can often be seen selling their work directly to the public. This is a great opportunity for you to praise their skills and ask about the significance of the design and symbolism. However, in many shops and markets in Cusco you will also find factory-made textiles often imported from China, inferior copies of traditional designs made from synthetic yarns and industrial dyes costing much less than the handmade Andean textiles.
This website isn't aimed at stopping you from buying these cheaper factory imports but more about helping to educate the visitor to Peru to the amount of work, skill and care that goes into producing the genuine article. Not only is each Andean textile a unique and beautifully made item but buying such a textile directly from the community contributes to the local economy and self-esteem of the Quechua people as well as helping to preserve a tradition and culture that has continued largely unchanged for many hundreds of years.
Cusco Textiles - A Guide to Weavings and Textiles in the Cusco Region of Peru
Introduction to Textiles in Peru / Responsible Tourism / Traditional Clothing / Textile Examples / Llamas & Alpacas / Spinning the Wool / Natural Dyes / Types of Loom / Weaving Techniques / Textile Symbols / Textile Cooperatives & Communities / Textile & Weaving Rituals / Festivals & Dance / A Guide to Buying Weavings & Textiles in Peru
© Mike Weston 2007. Material & Photos in this website cannot be used without written consent from the copyright holder.
Website sponsored by Peru Treks, Inca Trail specialists. Website designed by Andean Vision
Keywords: Textiles, Weavings, Textiles in Cusco, Textiles in Peru, Weaving Communities, Andean Textiles, Llamas, Alpacas, Textile Design, Iconographia, Textile Symbols, Shops, Andes, Weaving Cooperatives, Natural dyes, Quechua Traditional Clothing, Quechua, Ponchos, Chullos, Ancestral Designs, Indigenous Art, Cuzco,