Upon returning from her latest excursion to the Peruvian
For centuries, the Inca greatly valued textiles for warmth, social status, institutionalized gifts, and symbolic expressions of their beliefs. Today, El Centro de Textiles Tradicionales de Cusco (the Cusco Center for Traditional Textiles) is leading an exciting revitalization of Inca weaving techniques on a variety of traditional and modern products! In addition to producing customary textiles such as lliclla (woman’s shoulder cloth), chuspas (coca bags), chullos (men’s hats with ear flaps) and unkunas (cloth for ritual use), many artisans also cater to Western buyers with table runners, pillow covers, handbags, cosmetic bags, and even cell phone pouches.
Stop by The Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco, located on Avenida Sol next to the Coricancha, to see the finely woven, natural-dyed assortment of traditional cloth and visit with weavers from a number of surrounding communities. The center was founded in 1996 by Chinchero resident Nilda Callnaupa, a Quechua woman who works directly with local communities and travels internationally to promote this high quality indigenous weaving. The center includes an educational exhibition, where you can learn about working with a drop spindle, the origins of natural dyes, the survival and evolution of weaving technologies over centuries, and the cultural context and importance of weaving to descendants of the Inca.
You might also visit expert weaver Timoteo Carita, who works next to the La Campania Church on the main plaza. Enter through the door on the right-hand side, where artisans display their works, and you should see Timoteo right at the entryway. His exquisite textiles represent eight villages from the
Directly across from Cusco Cathedral on the Plaza de Armas, Josefina Olivera’s shop is a veritable treasure trove. Josefina herself is quite a vibrant character and has passed years of weaving experience and traditional lore on to her two sons, who also work in the shop. Together they sell a phenomenal range of textiles from the regions around
Take a moment to stop at Awanacancha, halfway down the main road from
Proceeds from the Awamaki shop in Ollantaytambo support dye workshops, weaving programs, and marketing efforts in communities of the nearby
For some variation on the traditional styles found in
Shop wisely: don’t be afraid to strike a bargain, and train and trust your eye and aesthetic instinct. Believe me, you’ll come home with a chest full of treasures that will still leave you wanting more.