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 to welcome new visitors and to better support the needs of Chinchero and other weaving communities. With contributions from the Flora Foundation, the Delta Foundation, and ATA, the center now includes climate-controlled storage for the textile collection; expanded storage for the CTTC’s stores of natural dyes; new classroom, exhibition, and meeting space where members of Chinchero and other communities can come to meet and teach international visitors; and an improved structure for the “traditional house,” designed to give visitors the experience of a home in a weaving community.
Here’s a quick photo tour of the Away Riqcharicheq, the Chinchero center, as the contractors are putting final touches on the beautiful new spaces.
The “traditional house” installation gives visitors a picture of life in a typical Andean rural home.
Natural dye room: The Chincero center stores natural dyes and mordants, safe and dry, for all the CTTC communities
Textile storage: The CTTC’s textile collection includes some pieces dating back hundreds of years. Roll-away cases and humidity control keep them safe for future generations.
New classroom: ATA tour members admire the new classroom space above the store in the Chinchero center.
Welcoming as ever: The Chinchero center is a wonderful place to experience all the steps of textile production. Here, the CTTC director Nilda Callañaupa talks about natural dyes. The new classroom space is on the second floor to the right, where the geraniums are blooming brightly.
Anita Osterhaug is former editor of Handwoven magazine and the Vice President of Andean Textile Arts. She is a writer and journalist who has been devoted to textiles since her first embroidery project at age eight, though her writing skills have also taken her into the high-tech world. She studied history and anthropology at Reed College, and participated in the 2013 Tinkuy international weaving conference in Cusco.