Center for Traditional Textiles Launches New Online Store

Andean Textile ArtsUncategorized

This fall, the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco (CTTC) opened an online store, bringing the weaving of Peru’s Sacred Valley direct to the world! For the first time, shoppers anywhere can browse CTTC products—from bags and backpacks to clothing, household textiles, toys, and jewelry—and order online. The new store is a significant step for the communities of CTTC and a great (if too tempting) opportunity for everyone who loves Andean textiles. Until now, the CTTC website displayed photos of some types of products and invited visitors to contact the center to arrange for purchase. Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez, CTTC director, knew that the website needed a full e-commerce capability, but a busy schedule of teaching, travel, and organizational development had … Read More

What’s Up in the Andes?

Andean Textile ArtsUncategorized

While the coronavirus has prevented us from hosting our tours to Peru and Bolivia this year, we’ve been keeping up on developments in the Sacred Valley with reports from Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez, director and founder of the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco (CTTC) and from our tour leader, Raul Callañaupa.  The pandemic has brought great hardship to the weaving communities, as it has everywhere. According to Nilda, the biggest problem has been a lack of food. Some households have doubled or tripled in size, as family members laid off from jobs in the cities and college students returned home to their villages. The families were not prepared with enough food for everyone, and without tourism and the income it … Read More

Week of the Women Who Spin with Drop Spindles

Dorinda DutcherUncategorized

Every October, childhood memories are rekindled in the Bolivian Andes during Spinning Week, a competition honoring a life-long skill. The spinners are the last generations of women born into the farmer subsistence lifestyle when the education of females was considered unnecessary. Doña Maxima Cortez remembers her youth in her rural community of Huancarani as idyllic. She knew where to herd the family flock to encounter her girlfriends, and they whiled away early adolescence shepherding, spinning, talking, and laughing.  In 2014, Doña Maxima was asked to query the weavers in Huancarani about participating in the international Spinzilla Spinning Week Competition. The response was enthusiastically affirmative. Spinzilla was organized by a group of volunteers under The National Needlearts Association (TNNA) umbrella to … Read More

Funding a Seed Bank

Marilyn MurphyUncategorized

In August, Andean Textile Arts received an unusual grant request from the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco (CTTC)—to assist in funding a seed bank, a cooperative project between the ten CTTC weaving communities. While this request was not directly related to textiles, helping to ensure food security for the weavers was deemed well within our mission and we approved this funding.   At the very beginning of COVID, family members from the Highland villages who worked in Lima and others cities returned to their communities, thereby creating a lack of food. For example, a family of two increased to seven with the addition of a son, his wife, and three children. There soon wasn’t enough potatoes and no income to … Read More

Timoteo Ccarita Sacaca—Master Weaver

Ercil Howard-WrothUncategorized

As I watched Timoteo, a master weaver after more than forty-five years, work with the weavers in his Peruvian community, I realized I was also watching a master teacher. Small groups of young weavers led by more experienced weavers were learning a discontinuous warp technique (also called scaffold weaving or ‘tillca’). Timoteo observed the groups and from time to time would tell a teacher to add something to the instruction or correct how the technique was being taught. Through this type of layered learning (wherein students learn technique, and at another layer teachers learn to teach and improve their own weaving), Timoteo and the other older accomplished weavers were passing on the precious weaving techniques of their ancestors to future … Read More

Andean Natural Dyes: Practical, Deep, and Empowering

Ercil Howard-WrothUncategorized

As I sit in the Andes at 12,000 feet, the sun is clear and piercing while weavers work. In clear vision, Andean woven color steps forward in a strong and forceful manner. Pattern, line, design, and form are defined by the color the weaver has selected. The hues are rich and pervasive, causing one to marvel at their power and wonder at their origins. Rescuing A Threatened Art Today in 2020 we might not realize how the incredible art of producing true Andean color—natural dyeing—was almost lost. Synthetic aniline dyes (created from coal tar extracts) were enormously popular and ensconced in western fashion within fifty years of their discovery by William Perkins in 1856. By the end of the 1900s, … Read More

Introducing Maria José Murillo, CTTC’s New Education Supervisor

Maria Jose MurilloUncategorized

Two years ago, I left my country, Peru, to do a MFA in Fiber and Material Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The experience of living abroad for the first time was completely revealing for me and brought up multiple questions around my cultural identity. While at the Fiber Department, my art practice was deeply influenced by textile processes, and by weaving in particular, which led me to connect with my indigenous heritage, ironically, outside my country.  The art and cultural legacy that we Peruvians have inherited from our ancestors, especially related to weaving, has been completely erased from our artistic educational system. That is how I ended up studying painting at college, without knowing not … Read More

In Memoriam: David VanBuskirk

Nilda CallañaupaUncategorized

I have not totally absorbed or believed that David VanBuskirk is gone, but sadly I have to accept the truth. I am so happy that I got to see him and his wife Libby during our visit last year to their home in Melbourne, Vermont. Since I met them in Cusco in 1984, they have been part of our family. David and Libby were very important supporters in providing for the continuation of traditional textile practices by the weavers in Chinchero. In those years, I was just starting to work with the weavers older than me. David and Libby generously provided the first budget for the development of the project to work with the weavers, through the U.S. nonprofit Cultural … Read More

Young Weavers Spend a Day Celebrating Their Cultural Heritage

Marilyn MurphyUncategorized

Imagine an entire day where you could spin, weave, dance, sing, and play—all devoted to sharing your traditions and bonding with other communities. That’s exactly what 225 young weavers from the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco (CTTC) did this past August. Last year, a few young leaders from each of CTTC’s ten weaving communities came together to plan their first official cultural gathering. The young weavers enthusiastically wanted this event and were ready to lead the charge. So why not? With the assistance of CTTC’s education department and funding from an Andean Textile Arts (ATA) grant, they made it happen. Their day started early as most traveled hours to the town of Pisac, the designated location for the event. … Read More

Scaffold Weaving: A New Life for a Remarkable Ancient Art

Jennifer MooreUncategorized

Scaffold weaving, also known as discontinuous warp, or ticlla in the Quechua language, is a remarkably complex and time-consuming ancient weaving technique. It originated in the Andean region of South America—the only place in the world where it existed—during the Middle Horizon and Late Horizon periods (AD 400-1535). We are fortunate that a number of examples of pre-Columbian scaffold weaving can still be seen in museum collections today. This technique has now been revitalized and is being practiced in Pitumarca, Peru, one of the ten weaving communities that comprise the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco (CTTC). In most weaving techniques, the warp threads are continuous lengths from the top end of the backstrap loom to the bottom. In scaffold … Read More