Timoteo Ccarita Sacaca—Master Weaver

Ercil Howard-WrothUncategorized

As I watched Timoteo, a master weaver after more than forty-five years, work with the weavers in his Peruvian community, I realized I was also watching a master teacher. Small groups of young weavers led by more experienced weavers were learning a discontinuous warp technique (also called scaffold weaving or ‘tillca’). Timoteo observed the groups and from time to time would tell a teacher to add something to the instruction or correct how the technique was being taught. Through this type of layered learning (wherein students learn technique, and at another layer teachers learn to teach and improve their own weaving), Timoteo and the other older accomplished weavers were passing on the precious weaving techniques of their ancestors to future … Read More

Andean Natural Dyes: Practical, Deep, and Empowering

Ercil Howard-WrothUncategorized

As I sit in the Andes at 12,000 feet, the sun is clear and piercing while weavers work. In clear vision, Andean woven color steps forward in a strong and forceful manner. Pattern, line, design, and form are defined by the color the weaver has selected. The hues are rich and pervasive, causing one to marvel at their power and wonder at their origins. Rescuing A Threatened Art Today in 2020 we might not realize how the incredible art of producing true Andean color—natural dyeing—was almost lost. Synthetic aniline dyes (created from coal tar extracts) were enormously popular and ensconced in western fashion within fifty years of their discovery by William Perkins in 1856. By the end of the 1900s, … Read More

The Road to Reclaiming an Ancient Paracas Textile Technique

Ercil Howard-WrothUncategorized

An amazing exhibit of work by the Andean weavers of the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco (CTTC) was recently on display (May 3-June 30) at the Museo Inka in Cusco, Peru. The exhibit, “Reclaiming Ancient Paracas: The Struggle to Recover a Textile Technique” (sponsored by Andean Textile Arts), showcased pieces the weavers created using the pre-Colombian Paracas and Nasca tubular cross-knit looping technique. Recovering textile practices of one’s ancestors takes time and dedication. The exhibit originated nearly three years ago when 20 Andean weavers from CTTC-associated weaving communities attended a workshop at the 2017 Tinkuy conference (also sponsored by ATA). In a unique union of academic and indigenous descendants of the Nasca,  professors Soledad Hoces de la Guardia and … Read More

Cochineal: A Simple Bug on a Cactus Pad

Ercil Howard-WrothUncategorized

The indigenous Mixtec people of Mexico tell the story of two brothers, gods in the land of the “cloud men,” who raged in mortal conflict over fields of nopal cacti. Their blood fell upon the fields, splattering the pads of the nopal and giving future generations an “ink that would circulate through their very veins.” Thus, cochineal was born in the Mixtec pantheon of the gods. Used in ancient times as paint, a cosmetic, and eventually textile dye, cochineal (Dactylopius coccus) is a tiny scale parasitic insect that originated in the Andean regions of what is now Peru, Argentina, and Bolivia. It migrated via coastal trade routes north into Mexico some 2,200 years ago. Its use as a textile dye … Read More