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

Sallac Young Weavers Interweave Textile Traditions into Their Lives

Deb Carpenter-BeckBehind the Scenes

This is the third in a series of blog posts based on interviews with young people throughout the Peruvian highlands who are reviving their traditional textiles through the Young Weavers program of the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco (CTTC), an important effort your ATA donations help support.  Hermelinda Espinoza Mamami and Ana Maria Huamán Qori wear the dress of their ancestors as they talk about their weaving and its importance in their lives. Their fringed monteras (hats), juvunas (short jackets), and polleras (wide black skirts) with brightly colored borders reflect their people’s past and showcase the extraordinary local artistry these two young women want to carry into the future. “Years ago we weren’t remembering the old dress,” Ana Maria … Read More

The Fibershed Movement: Looking Back To Move Forward

Cindy WeinsteinBehind the Scenes

Editors Note: If you’re hearing the term “fibershed” in textile conversations, you’re not alone. A growing number of farmers, fashion activists, and textile makers are talking about and joining the call to build a new, more environmentally friendly textile economy through what they call “fibersheds.” In this blog, Cindy Weinstein, ATA community member and owner of Wild Moon Fiber Arts Center, shares her thoughts on this relatively recent textile movement. Sometimes moving forward can look a lot like moving backwards. We do it all the time in small ways that we don’t even notice: swatches, dye sampling, weaving drafts, twist samples, and so on. Each time we work towards our vision and realize that we haven’t reached our goal, we … 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

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

2020: A Tale of Two Communities

Andean Textile ArtsBehind the Scenes

To paraphase Charles Dickens, “It was the worst of times, it was the best of people.” This year has brought challenges that never figured into most of our worst-case scenarios.  Pandemic, lock-downs, and, for some, loss of contact, financial security, or loved ones. Yet, through it all, the ATA community has remained steadfast in its commitment to support Andean weavers in preserving their textile traditions and their sustainable way of life. And the Andean communities, in turn, have been brave and creative in helping themselves to weather this storm. Last spring, as the coronavirus took hold worldwide, tourism shut down and Peruvians were told to isolate at home. The quarantine cut off income for the weavers and sales that support the … Read More

Fundraising Auction A Huge Success!

Andean Textile ArtsBehind the Scenes

Special thanks to all of you who participated in our summer fundraising auction, A Bid for the Future, a benefit for the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco (CTTC). By the time the auction closed on September 2, you and other ATA supporters had purchased sixty-three beautiful handmade Andean textiles, contributed to 270 phone cards, and with your additional donations helped us raise a total of $26,362. That’s more than 131% of our original $20,000 fundraising goal! Your purchases and donations are vital to the weaving communities around the Sacred Valley of Peru, now more than ever. In the last few weeks, we learned that the coronavirus epidemic has reached the mountain villages, and some communities are facing not only infection and loss … Read More

How Your Donations Help Andean Artisans

Anita OsterhaugBehind the Scenes

“Native peoples do not look for salvation from worlds beyond. . .The greatest of spiritual mysteries may be revealed just beyond the front door, in the life of a community.” ― Israel Morrow As a member of the ATA community, you help support Andean textile traditions through cultural preservation, education, and economic development. Over the years, our donors have helped Andean artisans to revive ancient textile techniques, helped provide business education for Andean weavers, helped build weaving centers, and even provided holiday joy for elders and children through Chocolatadas. But have you ever wondered how the ATA board allocates and manages your donations? Well, the answer lies in our mission statement: “Supporting the people of the Andes in their efforts … Read More