Book Review: Death in the Andes

Bob MillerBook Reviews

Death in the Andes, written by celebrated Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa, is on its surface a “whodunit,” set in the dark period when the Shining Path revolutionary terrorists (Sendero Luminoso terrucos) were conducting their campaign of terror in the remote mountain communities of the Peruvian highlands. One more horror in a place rife with rumors of flesh-harvesting pishtacos (evil monster-like men) and with hardship, suspicion, and mistrust—where even the landscape itself is out to destroy those who dare to trespass. Corporal Litumo and his adjunct Tomás Carreño are assigned to the dusty mining and road-building camp of Naccos, charged with discovering the common fate of three missing men. Little ties these three victims together: one was a nearby town … Read More

ATA 2020 Annual Report Now Available

Andean Textile ArtsATA Programs

The year 2020 was like no other, for the ATA community and the world at large. It tested our resilience, our kindness, and our creativity. In our 2020 ATA Annual Report, just released, we reflect on the challenges we faced during the past year, including the need to sustain the Andean weavers we support as they struggled through the pandemic. Thanks to your generous donations, we were able to take on those challenges head on: Our annual donations increased 23.5%, despite the cancellation of our textile tours to Peru and Bolivia—typically our largest source of donations.  We funded 15 grants benefitting 378 adult weavers and 272 young weavers. We kept Andean textile revitalization programs running, while also preserving income for … Read More

Peruvian Doubleweave: Past, Present, and Future

Anita OsterhaugUncategorized

Renowned weaver and ATA board member Jennifer Moore fell in love with doubleweave soon after her first weaving class in college. She was intrigued by being able to weave two separate layers of cloth at the same time, and most especially the possibility of creating design by interchanging the layers, a technique called doubleweave pick-up. As she explored this versatile weave structure over many years, she encountered the doublewoven designs of the pre-Columbian cultures of the Andes. Duality and complementarity (the balanced interchange of dual elements) are core concepts in the indigenous Andean worldview. From pre-Columbian and Inca cultures to today’s indigenous communities, interdependent and reciprocal relationships have always been central to Andean life. For example, since the COVID outbreak … Read More

Young Weavers Honor Past While Working Toward a Better Future

Deb Carpenter-BeckBehind the Scenes

In January, we introduced you to Lourdes Sullca Gutieerez and Nery Condori Layme, two young weavers from the Peruvian highland village of Accha Alta. In this post, these two amazing women tell us more about what weaving means to them, including the difficulties they face and the future they envision. For young weavers Lourdes Sullca Gutieerez and Nery Condori Layme weaving is a natural part of their lives. It is a way to honor and pass on the wisdom of their grandparents and the ancestors before them. “I feel proud,” says Nery about her weaving. “I want to learn more to pass on to other generations.” Lourdes agrees. She enjoys weaving and her passion is apparent as she points out … Read More

Potatoes and Costales

Betty DoerrBehind the Scenes

Looking back, would it have been possible to survive in the Andes without textiles, for warmth, for ritual, for celebration? Hard to imagine. It’s also difficult to imagine the Andes without the potato. In the Andean Quechua village of  Accha Alta alone there are 130 varieties, out of a total of 4,600 types of potatoes in Peru: Saqmari, in the shape of a fist. Pusi Q’achun Waq’achi, tough skinned. If you can peel it, you’ll make a good daughter-in-law. The name literally means “make your daughter-in-law cry.” Muru Q’ewillo, crooked like the horns of the cow. Muru Wayru, use it the wrong way and you can be cursed. Puma Runtu soqu, like the testicles of the puma. Ch’eque Pour Soqo, … Read More

Cultural Appropriation vs Appreciation

Stefanie BerganiniIndigenous Connections

Cultural appropriation has been a particularly contentious topic in recent years, and a debate that tends to be very polarizing. Some see it as a much needed call to higher standards of representation and transparency, others as needless identity politics. As I talked about in my last blog post, culture is dynamic, and constantly evolving, changing, and mixing. Particular foods, or styles of clothing, or visual motifs (among many many other things) make their way around the world, resulting in new or hybrid cultural expressions. So where is the line between appreciating and appropriating? I won’t claim to have a 100% foolproof way to judge whether or not something is cultural appropriation. The Cambridge Dictionary defines the term as “the … Read More

Andean Textile Talks Bring the Andes to You

Andean Textile ArtsATA Programs

We can’t always visit the Andes, especially now with COVID restrictions limiting international travel. But that doesn’t mean we can’t experience the people, traditions, and textiles of the Andes virtually. And that’s exactly what our new Andean Textile Talks series offers you—a chance to immerse yourself in the history, beauty, and techniques of one of the world’s oldest textile cultures, all from the comfort of your home. Many of you joined us on February 9 for our first Andean Textile Talk, featuring award-winning video maker Kathy Brew and her film Following the Thread. In fact, you could say, we had a virtual packed house. Her beautifully crafted film took us to several villages in the Peruvian highlands to learn about … Read More

Volunteer Profile: Cindy Weinstein

Deb Carpenter-BeckMeet Our Volunteers

Cindy Weinstein’s first connection with Andean textiles was in her mid-twenties, when she was apprenticing with a tapestry weaver at the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, Virginia. “Everyone was going to The Textile Museum in Washington D.C. to see a weaving demo by a Peruvian woman,” she recalls. “When we got there, we saw this young woman sitting next to a big tree in the museum’s courtyard demonstrating backstrap weaving. As soon as her hands started to weave, I was so moved that I just wept.” Decades later, Cindy met that weaver again on an ATA Textile Tour to Peru. The young woman from The Textile Museum’s courtyard, she found out, was Nilda Callañaupa, founder and director of the … Read More

Nothing Like a Good Book About the Andes

Sandi CardilloATA Programs

The Andean Textile Arts (ATA) community includes weavers, dyers, and fiber enthusiasts. It also includes travelers. We share adventures in person. We trek to ancient ruins and high mountain villages. We share armchair adventures, our stories, and our pictures. We are students of the world. When we on the ATA board pondered how to continue to reach out to our Andean Textile community in this time of restricted physical travel, I quietly suggested . . . ”let’s do a book club.” And so, it began. I reached out to a few of my fellow book lovers on the board; a list was created from our shared book list developed over the years. Gratefully, a few hearty folks raised their hands … Read More

An Unbroken Thread: Accha Alta Young Weavers Carry On Valued Traditions

Deb Carpenter-BeckBehind the Scenes

In 2020, ATA and the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco (CTTC) completed interviews with several young weavers from communities throughout the Peruvian highlands. This is the first in a series of blog posts based on those interviews. I hope you enjoy meeting these remarkable young women as much as I have enjoyed summarizing their stories. Lourdes Sullca Gutieerez and Nery Condori Layme are young weavers from Accha Alta, a Peruvian village high in the Andes Mountains. Nestled on a steep mountain slope close to the ruins of an ancient Incan granary, the village is the home of the Munay Pallay Awaqkuna weavers, an association in which Lourdes and Nery are members.  Like many young people in Peru’s highland villages, … Read More