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