Dyeing, Spinning, Weaving Traditional Peruvian arts

While I was on the National Geographic tour of Peru in September 2016, we saw a demonstration of the traditional Peruvian arts of dyeing, spinning, and weaving given by Peruvian women from the Center for Traditional Textiles in the city of Cusco, high in the Andes mountains.

The founder and director of the center is Nilda Callanaupa. In the 1990's, she realized traditional dyeing, spinning, and weaving arts were disappearing in Peru because of increasing mechanization, and she established the center with seed money from National Geographic.

Nilda brought several Peruvian women from the center to demonstrate for our tour.

To clean the wool, women wash it with a root from the jabonera (soapwort) plant. This root is a natural detergent which creates a lather and removes the dirt.

All the wool used in their weaving is dyed with natural dyes.

The women use drop-spindles to spin the wool

And, they use a variety of back-strap looms to do the weaving.

Small back-strap looms
A larger back-strap loom
An even larger back-strap loom

They finish off their weavings by adding a woven edge. In the pictures below, you can see that these women use twigs to separate the warp threads when making the woven edge. It looks like they sew the woven edge onto the woven cloth using a needle and a single ply of yarn (lower left).

Some of their weavings are really large! And, all of them are beautiful!

Of course, the women earn their living by selling their products! After the demonstration, we had an opportunity to support the Center.

I bought a table runner for my dining room table.

table runner

The table runner I bought is almost the same design and colors as the cloth the woman has in her lap in the picture below!

The table runner came with a tag that identifies the woman who made it.

The Center for Traditional Textiles is well-known in Peru. Here is the link to their web site which gives more information about the center and the women it supports.

traditional hair style

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all photos © Vivian Nagy 2016

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