Presenting “Coca: Divine Leaf of Immortality,” a Cultural Talk with Wade Davis

Andean Textile ArtsIndigenous Connections

Coca is not cocaine. To equate the coca leaf with the raw alkaloid cocaine is as misguided as suggesting that the delicious flesh of a peach is equivalent to the hydrogen cyanide found in every peach pit. Yet, for nearly a century, this has been precisely the legal and political position of nations and international organizations throughout the world. Join renowned cultural anthropologist and ethnobotanist Wade Davis as he delves into the cultural suppression surrounding the coca leaf. Learn more about this mild and benign stimulant that has been revered and consumed by the Indigenous peoples of the Andes for nearly 8,000 years. And gain a better understanding of why policies to eradicate coca essentially amount to cultural genocide. The … Read More

The Finishing Touch for Andean Textiles

Marilyn MurphyHow-To, Textile Traditions

It’s rare to see an Andean textile without an added border, whether an attached band, braid, or fringe, or an exquisite, embellished seam. So much care and attention go into the finishing details, that many weavers in the Andes look forward to these finishing touches. Finishing details are also very practical. Seams hold two handwoven cloths together for items such as ponchos, blankets, and mantas, while borders and fringes prevent edges from fraying. When borders, edges, and seams wear through, a weaver will carefully take them out and put in new ones, extending the life of the textile for many more years. Joins & Seams Since Andean textiles are woven on a backstrap loom, the width of the cloth is … Read More

Monederos for Your Money

Cynthia LeCount SamakéTextile Traditions

Women in the Andes of Peru and Bolivia knit colorful purses and bags in every shape imaginable. Since they hold coins (monedas in Spanish), the purses are called monederos. In the late 1800s, little purses in the shape of llamas, bulls, fish, birds, and people complete with detailed clothing were common, especially among wealthy women. Over a hundred years ago, Andean women used tiny knitted purses made of fine silk or vicuña thread to hold the small gold coins in use at the time. A wealthy woman wanting to impress her guests might greet them at the front door wrapped in a shawl, carrying a rosary, and holding a superbly detailed purse in her hand, as an object of status … Read More

Unraveling the Mystery of Khipus

Virginia GlennTextile Traditions

I don’t remember the first time I read about khipus (also spelled quipus). Most likely, it was the summer that I spent at a Spanish language institute in Mexico and was assigned the topic “Who were the Incas?” for a culture report. I remember being intrigued with the mathematical possibilities of something that sounded like a soft abacus. But I set aside my curiosity in order to focus on learning the names of all the Inca leaders—names that all seemed to have way too many letters. So now, all these years later, I was very interested in the ATA Textile Talk, “Written in Knots: What We Know Today About Khipus,” presented by Juan Antonio Murro, the curator for pre-Columbian art … Read More

Update on Andean Textile Arts Tours

Pam ArtTravel Tours

As many of you know, our tours have been on hold since 2020 due to COVID-related concerns. Although COVID is still with us, vaccines, treatments, and fewer restrictions on international travel are giving us hope that we can begin to resume our tours in the coming months. It’s exciting to think about traveling again and at the same time challenging to plan for all the possible contingencies. We have always strived to plan and conduct safe tours for our participants. We’ve provided tips and guidelines for staying healthy while traveling, including specific information on altitude-related issues, food safety, sanitizing to avoid germs carried by money and other items, and staying hydrated. Both ATA and our travel partner in Peru, Raul … Read More

Telling the Tales: A Thank You to Libby VanBuskirk

Sandi CardilloBehind the Scenes

In her book Beyond the Stones of Machu Picchu, Elizabeth (Libby) VanBuskirk introduces herself as “a writer, weaver, and teacher.”  She continues with the statement that “the weaver’s art could never be separated from the larger culture of the Incas and their predecessors.”  Libby VanBuskirk is a serious writer. She is a weaver. She is a visionary. And her story cannot be separated from the story of Andean Textile Arts (ATA).  As part of ATA’s unfolding “memories project,” I was recently treated to a delightful and gracious chat with Libby through the wonders of our now ubiquitous Zoom. This was one of those conversations that I found myself longing for in person. I so wished for a cup of tea, … Read More

Volunteer Profile: Bob Miller

Deb Carpenter-BeckMeet Our Volunteers

You may recognize Bob Miller’s name. He is one of our regular blog authors, providing his perspective on Andean-related books and delving into amazing textile techniques such as four-selvedge cloth. He also does a lot for Andean Textiles Arts (ATA) behind the scenes, researching and writing textile descriptions for our auction and helping to select topics and book titles for our Andean Textile Talks and Andean Book Club meetings. Bob grew up in Virginia and graduated from Virginia Tech with an an engineering degree. Afterwards he headed to Colorado, where he spent his entire thirty-nine-year career and raised three children with this wife, Jean. He’s retired now. “Colorado was just about perfect for Jean and I, with plenty of nearby … Read More

Book Review: Turn Right at Machu Picchu

Bob MillerBook Reviews

For much of my life, I have loved tramping around in remote places in the American Southwest. Finding blank spots on the map, I’ve enjoyed exploring them, discovering magical secrets few others know about, based on whispered rumors or perhaps just telltale bits of interesting topography on USGS maps. Or, as often happens these days, I imagine the adventures my creaking joints and busy calendar no longer so enthusiastically sign up for. In Turn Right at Machu Picchu, author Mark Adams delivers a delightful itinerary for the imagination of the “Gee, I wish I could (still!) do that” would-be adventurer. Adams relates his real-life experiences as an unlikely explorer on his own ill-advised “bucket list” adventure trekking the Andean highlands. Retracing the path … Read More

Acopia Young Weavers: Bringing Weaving Traditions Back to Life

Deb Carpenter-BeckBehind the Scenes

Not long ago the tradition of weaving was disappearing in Acopia, a small community located on the shores of Acopia Lago, eighty-seven miles south of Cusco, Peru. Only the older women of this lake-side village were weaving, and their traditional techniques and designs were quickly dying with them. All of that has changed in recent years thanks to the efforts of the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco (CTTC) and their ATA-supported Young Weavers program. Working with Acopia elders, CTTC staff encouraged them to pass on their weaving knowledge to the youth of their village—young men and women such as Paola Medina Condori Nina and her friend Rocío Gonzales. “I heard the call from a speaker, ‘People who want to … Read More

Wisdom, Grace, and Intrepid Adventurers—A Thank You to Jannes Gibson and Betty Doerr

Sandi CardilloMeet Our Board

This spring the Andean Textile Arts (ATA) board said goodbye and thank you to two amazing women. Jannes (Jan) Gibson and Betty Doerr stepped down from their formal positions on the board, but their presence remains. Jan and Betty were truly pathfinders. Women of a certain grace and wisdom. Women who made a difference in the lives of so many.  In 2020, ATA president Marilyn Murphy asked that I take on a project of working with Jan and Betty to glean their knowledge of Andean Textile Arts’ history. We loosely called it the “memories project.” The intent was to capture the stories of ATA’s early work with the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco (CTTC) in Peru. The Margaret Mead … Read More