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Preserving a traditional weaving technique near Cusco

17 Jan

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We spent part of Tuesday in Chinchero visiting the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco where local women gather to preserve their traditional weaving method.  The traditional indigenous weavers use the back strap loom, which dates back to pre-Columbian times, to create their textiles. When we arrived, the weavers handed each of us a poncho to wear and a cup of tea to sip on.  Nilda Callañaupa leads the women and explained to us how they create a piece, from hand-spinning the yarn to weaving the actual textile and finishing the borders.  Nilda’s co-op differs from the others that we’ve visited because customers can visit their store and purchase products there on a regular basis.

Photos by Lacey Weninger and Sharon Kessler

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Peru’s Uros keep their culture afloat

14 Jan
Uros Island welcome

Click on the photo to launch a Soundslide presentation by Mike Dorsher on the culture of Peru's indigenous Uros, who live on floating reed islands in Lake Titicaca.

Taquile Island is an island away from the world

14 Jan

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The sunlight on the water shone with unparalleled brilliance as the boat came to rest at Taquile Island.  The community leader’s young daughter greeted us each warmly with a hug and a kiss on the cheek.  A colorful group of musicians led the march up from the lake to a sunny expanse of grass overlooking Lake Titicaca.  The taquileños treated us like royal guests, giving us an in-depth lesson about their lives on the island and later serving us a quite gratifying traditional meal before a beautiful hike around the island.

Taquile Island was recognized by UNESCO in 2005 for its fine handwoven textiles.  It’s an idyllic place to live, for the most part left alone by the Peruvian government.  The inhabitants are divided into six suyus, or communities, that exist for crop rotation.  The great majority of the island’s food is produced right there, meaning it’s all organic, and solar panels are used in favor of the island’s generators.  I left these warm, gentle people feeling that Taquile is exactly what myths are made of.

Slideshow produced by Brita Dallmann.  Photos by Mike Dorsher, Megan Roltgen and Lacey Weninger.

See our earlier blog post for a book review on Taquile Island.

Dancing their dance at the Minka co-op in Juliaca

13 Jan

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Through Melanie Ebertz’s ArtAndes tour, we have been able to experience what she calls “real Peru:” a world beyond beautiful hotels and popular tourist sites (though we are excited to see Machu Picchu). On the trip, many indigenous Peruvians have welcomed us into their shops and homes.

On Friday, we took a bus from the city of Puno to Juliaca, where a group of weavers awaited us.  The women of the Minka co-op (Minka means “working together” in Quechua) greeted us right after we got off the bus, complete with a four-man band and women dancing in their traditional clothes.  The dancers grabbed our hands and we joined them in their dance.

After huffing and puffing from dancing at about 13,000 feet above sea level, we met the weavers and they demonstrated their techniques. The 20 members of the ArtAndes tour left with about $1,300 worth of hand-crafted clothes, a ton of appreciation from the weavers and smiles to bridge the miles between their cultures.

Photos by Brita Dallmann, Megan Roltgen and Sharon Kessler.