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. During the morning, each group presented a brief history of their traditional dance in Quechua, performed their dance complete with colorful costumes, then cheerlead on the next group. Traditional songs, sung in Quechua, were part of the afternoon’s activities.
An absolute highlight of the day was the spinning contest, particularly for the younger ones. It was amazing to see how the youngest group of spinners, age five to six years, had already mastered Andean spinning using their spindles. Each community cheered on the next during the two minutes of contest time of spinning long and fine threads.
By the late afternoon, when soccer and volleyball games commenced, the young weavers were no longer divided by their community groups. The Cultural Gathering for the Young Weavers ended with a big party where everyone danced and celebrated together.
This gathering reinforced the young weavers’ cultural identity and the continuation of their ancestral traditions and art skill. It also created a bond between the weavers and a shared acknowledgement that the future of Andean textiles is in good hands.
The adult CTTC weavers were so taken by this event that they are planning one of their own. It will take place in October when the ATA tour group is visiting. And thanks to our donors, ATA is proud to be providing a grant for this special gathering too.
Marilyn Murphy is President of ATA and managing partner of ClothRoads.com, an online marketplace and blog devoted to global textiles. An ATA board member since 2013, she co-curated the exhibition, “Weaving Lives: Transforming Textile Traditions in the Peruvian Highlands,” at Colorado State University’s Avenir Museum. Previously Marilyn was president and editorial director for Interweave media. She also owned the Weaving Workshop in Chicago and founded the Textile Arts Centre there.