Seeds of Change in Bolivia

Marilyn MurphyBehind the Scenes, Indigenous Connections

What a fortuitous day greeted us during the ATA tour to Bolivia in August. Upon our arrival to the CIDAC-Artecampo center in Santa Cruz, we were welcomed by Paula Saldaña, the director of CIDAC. She warmly exclaimed, “You’re Andean Textile Arts! Thank you so much for funding two of our projects in 2019.” She quickly apologized for the lack of communication since then, explaining that it had been a challenging time. (Paula started as director in 2021.) This day we would learn what a difference those funds made to the artisans during a time of great need. The Backstory During our first visit to Bolivia in 2019, we visited the CIDAC-Artecampo (CIDAC is short for the Center of Research, Design … Read More

Peru Report, Fall 2023

Ginger JonesATA Programs, Behind the Scenes, Indigenous Connections

This October marked our first public tour to Peru since Covid. It was well worth the wait for the seventeen travelers and for me as a new ATA Board member, visiting Peru’s weaving communities for the first time, to see all that ATA support has accomplished there. Over eleven days, we traveled to the Sacred Valley and Cusco, absorbing Peruvian culture expressed through fiber arts. Here are some of the highlights of our trip: In Mahuaypampa, the weaving community hardest hit by illness over the past few years, the weavers greeted us with showers of flower petals, garlands, and music. Since last year, ATA donors have supported construction of a new weaving shelter there. To celebrate, few of our participants ... Read More

Weaving Under the Rainbows

Deb Carpenter-BeckBehind the Scenes, Indigenous Connections

The colors of the rainbow are ever-present in the lives of Luz Gabriela Valencia and Luz Clara Condori. Both of these young weavers are from Chinchero, Peru—a place where rainbows frequently arch over their heads. So common is this visual spectacle after a rainstorm, the city, located on a high plain approximately nineteen miles northwest of Cusco, is known as the birthplace of the rainbow. These vibrant rainbow colors also inspire the fabrics woven by the two young women and other weavers in the community. “This manta has the colors typical of Chinchero,” says Luz Clara, as she points to the shawl-like textile she is wearing. “We dye in a big pot according to what color we are going to … Read More

Tale of a Royal Inca Tunic

Virginia GlennATA Programs

I was originally interested in Dr. Andrew James Hamilton’s Andean Textile Talk about an Inca tunic because of my love of Andean textiles in general, but also because one my favorite possessions is a textile that I bought at an ATA auction fundraiser. It’s easy to see the visual connection between the two pieces. The author's textile piece During his presentation, Dr. Hamilton introduced us to the very special tunic by explaining its uniqueness as the only surviving royal Inca tunic. Through documentation from the colonial period, he showed that the tunic’s design was originally used exclusively by Inca royalty. Since the Inca rulers never wore the same garment twice and when they died the garments were burned, it’s not ... Read More

Book Review: Faces of Tradition

Bob MillerBook Reviews, Indigenous Connections

To treasure a traditional handwoven textile is to know that such a thing is far more than a mere piece of cloth—it tells a story. It has an artisan creator, who lives this story in their community and culture, and who has imparted a bit of themselves into this cloth, whether it is simply or extravagantly made. Indeed, to view such a creation without appreciating its story, as a mere textile utterly detached from the weaver, the community, and the culture that created it, is to strip it of much of its beauty and meaning.  Which brings us to the fine book Faces of Tradition: Weaving Elders of the Andes.  Written by Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez and Christine Franquemont, with lavish photography by Joe Coca, Faces … Read More

Living on Lake Titicaca’s Floating Islands

Virginia GlennIndigenous Connections

In October 2022 we visited the Uros communities on their floating reed islands on Lake Titicaca. I wondered why would their ancestors chose to create and live on floating islands, when there’s so much open land altiplano surrounding the lake. It seemed like a challenging existence. According to legend, the Uru (or Uros) people originated in the Amazon region and migrated to the area of Lake Titicaca in the pre–Columbian era, where they were oppressed by the local population and unable to secure land of their own.1 Another source added that the Uros people considered themselves the owners of the lake and the water and that they had black blood because they did not feel the cold.2 A third resource … Read More

Knitting, Weaving, and Courtship on the Isle of Taquile

Bob MillerIndigenous Connections, Textile Traditions

A two-and-a-half-hour boat ride from Puno on Lake Titicaca, itself a day’s bus ride from Cusco, brings you to the remote island of Taquile, whose indigenous Quechua-speaking inhabitants weave and knit some of the finest textiles in the Andes. Rising more than 700 feet above Titicaca’s vast expanse, this rocky island has been home to its Quechua-speaking community since before the time of the Incas. Ancient ruins on the island date from 1200 CE and pre-Columbian farming terraces are still cultivated. Due to its isolation, the island was one of the last communities of the Inca empire to be brought under control of the Spanish in the sixteenth century. The Spaniards renamed the place Taquile after a prominent Spanish nobleman. … Read More

Indigo Mules

Marilyn MurphyBehind the Scenes, Indigenous Connections, Textile Traditions

We flew to Peru carrying precious cargo in our suitcases—seventeen 1-pound bags triple-wrapped in plastic, and labeled “Ground Indigofera Tinctoria” just in case our bags were searched. This wasn’t the first time we were asked to be “indigo mules” and I’m sure we haven’t been the only carriers over the years. This indigo would be given as gifts to each of the ten weaving communities, association members of the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco (CTTC), who the ATA board and volunteers would be visiting in late October (2022). Recovering Natural Dye Usage Since the 1990s, the CTTC has worked to recover the practice of natural dyeing in the Cusco region. Through extensive research, attending workshops, talking with natural dye … Read More

Join Us on ATA’s first Ecuador Explorations! 

Ginger JonesATA Programs, Indigenous Connections, Travel Tours

Although Ecuador may be small, it’s a remarkable country of extremes. From the Andean highlands and volcanic mountains to Amazonian rainforests and the unique Galapagos Islands, Ecuador is one of the most environmentally diverse countries in the world. These varied landscapes translate into rich cultural heritages and a vast array of folk art traditions. That is why we are so excited to be offering ATA’s first two trips to Ecuador this fall: a five-night extension following our Peru trip in October, or an eleven-night comprehensive trip, in November. Our tours will visit the Andean high Sierra near Quito and Otavalo in the north. The longer trip also includes Cuenca in the south. Both Quito and Cuenca are UNESCO World Heritage … Read More

Power to the Potato!

Andean Textile ArtsIndigenous Connections

Serve up the papas fritas, French fries, or pomme frites! May 30, 2024 will be the first-ever International Day of the Potato, a date chosen to coincide with the historic Peruvian National Potato Day celebrations. This is the first time that the United Nations has ever declared an international day for a major crop. They recognize potatoes have an important role in helping to eradicate poverty, improve food security, and provide healthy and nutritious food to millions of people. Potatoes are one of the five most consumed crops around the world following wheat, rice, corn, and sugarcane. And although you may initially think of German potato salad or French fries, potatoes were first domesticated between 8,000-10,000 years ago in southeastern … Read More