Making Connections, Changing Lives

Andean Textile ArtsUncategorized

Maybe you’ve been on one of the ATA excursions to Peru. Maybe you’ve watched the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco grow from a dream to a significant presence in the heart of the city. Because you’re reading this right now, it’s safe to say that you’ve helped support that growth. So read on – CTTC will be hosting a deeply interesting and unforgettable event this November, and you should consider being there.

     Tinkuy de Tejedores 2013, a Gathering of Weavers, builds on the first Tinkuy in 2010. After that first Tinkuy, Nilda said “never again” – it was a huge success, but also a huge effort. But it wasn’t six months before the staff rallied and said, “We have to do this again!” And so they are. In Cusco, November 12-15, with a Sponsor Tour to weaving villages and archaeological sites running through November 23.

     I first went on a Sponsor Tour in 2005, and it literally changed the course of my life. Oh, I’d been pretty heavily involved in textiles forever, as founder and publisher of Interweave Press. But never had I encountered a textile legacy as compelling and well-preserved as that of the Peruvian Highlands. But it wasn’t just about the textiles. It was the people.

     As we travelled from nearby Chinchero to distant Accha Alta, from Chahuaytire to Pitumarca, we received smiles, hugs, weaving and spinning demonstrations, delicious and strange luncheons of hearty soups and festive guinea pig (tastes like squirrel). I was humbled by a personal lesson in scaffold weaving taught by a very old weaver. I got to see the first naturally-dyed ikat warp in decades emerge from a cochineal dyepot in Sallac.

     The Sponsor Tour this fall will be the capstone of the whole Tinkuy experience. Weavers are coming from around the world to learn, to share, to have hands-on lessons in spinning, backstrap weaving, knitting, braiding, and more. Keynote speakers from the U.S., England, and India will honor the traditions of indigenous weavers everywhere. Two new books will be launched: one honoring the weaving Elders of the Cusco region, authored by Nilda and Chris Franquemont, and one presenting a delightful collection of Andean folktales, retold by Libby Van Buskirk and illustrated by Nilda’s brother, Angel Callañaupa. There will be singing, dancing, spin-ins, special exhibits, shopping. Judging from the effort going into Tinkuy, I can imagine that Nilda will say “never again” again – and mean it. So grab this chance. Come to Cusco in November.