Tag Archives: Cuzco

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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Sacsayhuamán ruins spark amazement at Incan ingenuity

16 Jan

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As the famous Quechuan-Spanish author Garcilaso de la Vega wrote:

This fortress surpasses the constructions known as the seven wonders of the world.  For in the case of a long broad wall like that of Babylon, or the colossus of Rhodes, or the pyramids of Egypt, or the other monuments, one can see clearly how they were executed.  They did it by summoning an immense body of workers and accumulating more and more material day by day and year by year.  They overcame all difficuties by employing human effort over a long period.  But it is indeed beyond the power of imagination to understand how these Indians, unacquainted with devices, engines, and implements, could have cut, dressed, raised, and lowered great rocks, more like lumps of hills than building stones, and set them so exactly in their places.  For this reason, and because the Indians were so familiar with demons, the work is attributed to enchantment.

Textbooks and Garcilaso couldn’t prepare us for seeing Sacsayhuamán in person.  This  archeological site is overlooking Cusco, about 12,500 feet above sea level, and its walls contain boulders so precisely cut that a piece of paper will not fit between many of them — even after 500 years and dozens of earthquakes. Though appearing to be a fortress, many researchers believe it was actually a temple devoted to sun worship.

It remains a wonder how humans used nothing but handmade rollers, ramps, levers and chisels to mine, transport, carve and precisely fit together boulders weighing up to 200 tons!

Raqchi ruins reveal Inca temple

15 Jan

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Prominent on the road between Puno and Cusco are the world’s largest Inca temple ruins, at Raqchi. Central to the ruins is the Temple of Wiracocha, which is 300 feet long — the length of a U.S. football field — by about 80 feet wide and 60 feet high, with Inca stonework covering the first 13 feet high and adobe the rest. The Incas built the temple and surrounding quarters and granaries in the 15th century, only to have the Spanish conquistadors knock much of it down around 1540 and later build their own church in its shadow. Located on the ancient Inca Road in a beautiful valley still some 11,500 feet above sea level, Raqchi remains home to artisenias, farmers and small ranchers.

Slide show produced by Mike Dorsher. Photos by Sharon Kessler, Mike Dorsher, Lacey Weninger, Phyllis Highman and Megan Roltgen.