When you give to Andean Textile Arts, you help support weaving communities across the Andes. Our Andean partners work directly with weavers in these communities, helping them preserve and revitalize their textile traditions while also providing economic opportunity.
The Young Weavers program brings children and youth in the Andean weaving communities together to study traditional and historical textile art techniques. Andean Textile Arts (ATA) funds provide a program coordinator, materials, and travel costs to museums and gatherings. Young weavers get hands-on experience exploring their ancient textile heritage from the Nazca, Chavin, Paracas, Chimú, Chancay, and Inca cultures. The young weavers often work to revive almost-lost traditions and bring them back to their communities. By helping build the children’s textile skills and pride in their heritage, we help preserve traditions, foster friendships between the young weavers and their communities, and ensure a bright future for their communities and way of life.
The communities of the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco (CTTC) have been a special project since the founding of ATA in 1996. ATA’s grants have funded the building of weaving shelters in seven communities in the Sacred Valley. Adobe-walled structures with roofs and sanitary facilities, these shelters have been crucial to the early success of CTTC: they provide a community center where weavers from outlying areas come together regularly to learn, work, and give support to one another, protected from the elements. Each association governs its cooperative collectively and elects its leadership to manage finances and decision-making. This structure encourages weavers to develop managerial and marketing skills.
During our first visit to Bolivia in 2019, we visited the CIDAC-Artecampo (CIDAC is short for the Center of Research, Design and Marketing of the Santa Cruz Artisanry).
We learned about the jipi japa plant used by the weavers in making fine, palm-leaf-fiber hats (similar to “Panama”-style ones). Due to deforestation in the area where the species was being grown, the weavers needed to plant seeds elsewhere as they were quickly losing the raw materials to make a living. They desperately needed the right land, and to plant seeds before the rainy season.
Now, fast-forward four years and our first return visit to Bolivia. The jipa japa palm trees were growing—all from the seeds stemming from the funding in 2019!
ATA began a Capital Campaign in 2002 with the goal of raising $480,000. Through the generosity of many donors, those funds made possible the purchase of a building in downtown Cusco, Peru. This textile center houses a retail shop selling the weavers’ textiles, administrative offices, an educational center, permanent collections, oral history and photo archives, weavers dormitories for visiting weavers, and a museum exhibit. To the great pride of the weavers and their families, the center and museum was formally dedicated in July 2005, and extensively renovated in 2022. Tourists and locals visit the shop and museum to learn about the rich heritage of Andean textiles, observe weavers as they work, and purchase exquisite textiles.
The internship program at the CTTC provides an invaluable opportunity for the young weavers from each of the ten weaving communities. Internships are an integral part of our commitment to helping preserve and revitalize ancient textile traditions while providing valuable learning opportunities to the next generation of weavers.
This program is not only essential for the personal and professional development of the young interns but is also invaluable to ongoing activities and projects at the CTTC. These talented young individuals bring fresh energy and unique perspectives, further enriching the CTTC’s commitment to sustainable weaving practices.
During the Covid pandemic, natural disaster, and other emergencies that affect tourism and the weavers’ income, the ATA community has sometimes stepped in with aid for seeds, medical supplies, phone cards so that children can attend school remotely, and weaving materials so that the weavers can continue to work and provide for their families until conditions improve. The weavers’ have expressed profound gratitude for the sometimes lifesaving support and the fact that ATA donors care enough to provide it.
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