Textile weaving in remote villages
The people of the Andes have a long tradition of weaving fabulous textiles using the wool from their llamas and alpacas, coloured with natural dyes derived from plants and minerals. The designs they use and the costumes they make from these wonderful textiles vary from village to village. The one thing they have in common though is that they are hand woven using very simple and traditional techniques. I say simple in that they are not complex, but have a go and you will see that there is a lot of skill involved and it’s not as simple as it looks!
There are some weaving centres quite close to Cusco where the craft is being taught to the younger generation, preserving this rich cultural heritage. One of the best ones is at Chinchero where you can see the weaving being done and also get a chance to buy some of the pieces they have made.
But if you have the time to go a bit further afield then spend a day going up to the villages behind Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley. Up here at Patacancha and Willoc weaving is very much part of community life. It’s here that the charismatic local costume worn by the local people you see around Ollantaytambo is generally made. And more than just seeing the weaving, it is something of an eye-opener to see what rural like is like in the villages of the Peruvian Andes beyond the regular tourist trail.
where to go
The Quechua villages of Huilloc and Patacancha are in the hills above Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley. In both places weaving remains part of daily life and people wear traditional dress made from these woven textiles.
when to go
Tours to the weaving villages operate year round every day of the week apart from Sunday. They take place in the morning and include a picnic lunch.
how to do it
You can go on a weaving village tour when staying in Cusco or the Sacred Valley. You'll spend time watching the ladies weaving and will have the opportunity to have a weaving lesson, aiming to produce a 'pulsera', a bracelet, as a memento of your visit. The tout is run by a nonprofit social enterprise that empowers women through skills training.
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