Cataloging & Using Traditional Designs

Marilyn MurphyBehind the Scenes, Indigenous Connections, Textile Traditions

The Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco (CTTC) has long understood the importance of documenting weaving designs, techniques, and other textile traditions that were disappearing over time. One of the early goals was to create a simple design catalog as a physical archive documenting a woven example of each design and its name. In 2020, the CTTC completed the documenting of the designs from all ten communities, finishing it during Covid, which helped to maintain contact with the weavers. In 2021, the CTTC expanded the design catalog from a physical archive to a digital database, taking photos of all the designs and collecting histories from the weavers about each design. By the end of this year, all of the CTTC’s … Read More

Congratulations, CTTC Interns!

Anita OsterhaugATA Programs, Behind the Scenes, Indigenous Connections

As part of its 2022/2023 grant requests, the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco (CTTC) asked for the support of the ATA community to create an internships program for young weavers, aimed at developing the next generation of leadership for the CTTC and the weaving communities. You all gave generously to our spring 2022 campaign, and we were able to fund a grant that has already brought three young weavers to work at the center in Cusco. All three interns have learned new skills and provided valuable help to the CTTC’s programs. Alesandro “Sandro” Hayme, from Accha Alta, is 19 years old, and he has been interning in retail operations. He says the work in the CTTC store has been … Read More

Celebrating Peru’s Ancestral Textiles

Stefanie BerganiniBehind the Scenes, Indigenous Connections, Travel Tours

On the third of November, the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco (CTTC) held a “Celebration of Ancestral Textile Arts” to mark the unveiling of its newly remodeled store, educational center, and office building in central Cusco. Throughout the day, representatives from the CTTC’s ten weaving associations spread across the sunlit green lawn of the Qorikancha, the most important temple in all of Incan culture, to work on backstrap looms, show off naturally dyed yarn, and talk with locals and tourists as interested passersby filled the wide sidewalk along the lawn. Dignitaries including the CTTC’s executive director Nilda Callañuapa, the CTTC’s board president Miryam Luna, and the mayor of Cusco, Víctor G. Boluarte Medina, all spoke warmly about the important … Read More

Chinchero Weaving Center Ready for More Visitors

Anita OsterhaugBehind the Scenes, Indigenous Connections, Travel Tours

Chinchero, Peru is a town in transition. It’s good news and bad news. Travel to Peru’s Sacred Valley has outgrown the airport in Cusco, and a new airport is under construction in Chinchero, one that will put incoming tourists that much closer to Machu Picchu, the ultimate destination of so many. The face of Chinchero is already changing, with exploding construction, more traffic, new businesses. The weavers of Chinchero are concerned about how the airport will affect their community. At the same time, they are determined to preserve their textile traditions and take advantage of what new opportunities may come. In preparation, the Chinchero weaving center, an extension of the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco (CTTC), has been remodeled … Read More

A Long-Awaited Visit to Peru’s Weaving Communities

Marilyn MurphyBehind the Scenes, Indigenous Connections, Travel Tours

During a recent ATA board visit to weaving communities in Peru, the village of Mahuaypampa was our first stop. Of all our visits, this community was the hardest hit by illness and low morale over the past few years. But this day, we were warmly greeted by the weavers who showered us with rose petals, followed by an honorable request to be padrinos (godparents) of their weaving shelter (we were the first group they welcomed into their center). With hammer in hands, held jointly by at least five of us, we smashed a clay jar filled with chicha, a corn-based beverage, and entered the compound. Construction of their weaving shelter was still underway (a project begun in 2019 with the … Read More

Coca in Andean Culture

Jennifer MooreATA Programs, Indigenous Connections

On September 13, Andean Textile Arts had the honor and the pleasure of hosting Wade Davis in a Zoom presentation entitled “Coca: Divine Leaf of Immortality?”. Davis comes to this topic not only with great passion, but with an impressive background and list of credentials: author, photographer, filmmaker, cultural anthropologist, explorer-in-residence for the National Geographic Society, and of particular relevance to this topic, holding a doctorate in ethnobotany from Harvard University. The leaves of the coca plant have been in use in South America for thousands of years, pre-dating the arrival of the Spanish. Rather than a drug, coca is a mild and benign stimulant with exceptionally high nutritional value. It is held in reverence by Indigenous peoples of the … Read More

Chuspas: Small Bags with Big Significance

Virginia GlennIndigenous Connections, Textile Traditions

When I started researching this topic, I was merely focused on the one very old chuspa that I had in my collection, which I purchased in Peru in 1980. Chuspa is a Quechua word for bag or purse. Elaborate chuspas are used as part of dancers’ costumes during festivals; every-day, smaller chuspas often carry money (these chuspas are also called monederos). I knew that chuspas also are used for carrying coca leaves, but I never thought about the significance of coca to the Andean culture. I had only been told that the Indigenous Quechua speakers would chew the leaves to help give them energy or to keep from getting hungry. While chuspas are made using traditional techniques, the sacred substance … Read More

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

Indigenous Connections: Traditional Ecological Knowledge

Stefanie BerganiniIndigenous Connections

In academic circles, the knowledge, skills, and forms of technology that indigenous people have evolved in relationship to their environments are often known as “traditional ecological knowledge,” or TEK. These systems of knowledge are deeply related to place, and often involve a holistic understanding of people as part of, or interdependent with, the natural world, rather than having dominion over it. Though practices vary from place to place and people to people, traditional ecological knowledge is central to the lives and cultures of indigenous peoples and is often handed down over generations through everyday practices, as well as stories, folklore, songs, and other traditions. In the United States, especially if you live in the increasingly fire-ravaged western part of the … 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