El Centro de Textiles Tradicionales de Cusco
This website is run by the Center’s founders as an educational resource about the incas’ arts and culture. Please also visit the CTTC main website.
El Centro de Textiles Tradicionales de Cusco
In Cusco you may now visit the permanent home of the Center for Traditional Textiles. The newly remodeled Center building is located at 603 Ave. Sol, beside the gardens of Koricancha, the Inca Temple of the Sun. The Center’s presentation, WEAVING LIVES: TRADITIONAL TEXTILES OF CUSCO has just been installed in the Exhibition Gallery. In the museum shop you can watch weavers from villages associated with the Center as they demonstrate their work. In the museum shop you will also find textiles of the highest quality for sale. Most have been hand-selected by Nilda Callañaupa.
Hours of operation are:
Monday-Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Saturday: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
In the Andes of Peru weavings are important to every Inca family. Every village has its own weaving patterns and traditions. There are thousands of techniques, layouts, styles, and practices associated with Peruvian weaving. We draw on a tradition of over 2000 years and we are still weaving today.
I am proud that I learned skills and knowledge from my Chinchero grandmothers and their ability to lay out and weave comlex designs, carrying on ideas passed from their mothers and grandmothers. I learned how to spin yarn when I was five years old, to weave my first patterns when I was six, and to make belts and mantas when I grew older.
Today all children live in a different world from their parents, reacting to the many influences outside of family and community. In Peru I see that instead of spinning fur or wool from their animals, many young people can buy and are beginning to weave with synthetic yarn made by machines.
I saw how my Grandmothers took strength from their Inca rituals and ceremonies, especially those connected with spinning and weaving. Not only do I hope that young people will continue their traditions but I would like to see Inca children today experiencing the joy, sense of identity and accomplishment that spinning and weaving can bring to their lives.
We started the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco in l996 to explore which Andean weaving traditions still exist today, how we might educate people in our culture to value and continue the Inca heritage, and how we, as a group of concerned individuals, might aid villages and families in this process.
In the Andes we depend mainly on farming to provide food for our families,but it brings little income. Like those who came before us, we still honor the earth and continue practices adapted to difficult conditions of high altitude,
The work of the Center is not just to preserve and to study Peruvian textiles, their symbolism and significance, etc. Our goal also is to assist families to create a larger market for their textiles and a new economy for their communities.
We are realizing that every culture contributes to the richness of world culture. For example, many Native North American communities, eroded as ours has been by conquest and being made subjects, are trying to find out the beliefs and practices of their ancestors. We are fortunate that many of our practices are still alive and can be continued. But they are changing fast and are in danger of being lost in this generation.
I would never have believed the support received both in Peru and from friends and acquaintances in other countries to make our project, the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco, a growing reality. We want to make a contribution in helping to keep Andean weaving traditions alive. We also want to find opportunities for weaving families and children to make a small income that provides the benefits of adequate food, health care,improvements to school buildings and the pencils and notebooks and papers children need in order to take advantages of opportunities provided in the modern world. As we continue our plans for the Center we believe that all of these functions can come together to make a whole.
Here in Peru weaving is an art that we live with every day and for us it is more than an art, it is an historical part of the living culture.
Nilda Callañaupa, Director
The Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco celebrates its tenth anniversary this year, 2006. The Center was established in 1996 as a Special Project of Cultural Survival. The mission was to aid in the preservation and revival of Peruvian Inca textiles. The founders were responding to an alarming development: the valuable 2000-year-old textile traditions of Peru were in danger of disappearing in this generation.
Five years later the Center for Traditional Textiles became independent of Cultural Survival receiving its own status as a nonprofit 401c3 in the United States.
Under the leadership of Nilda Callañaupa, the project in Peru has experienced significant growth as an internationally recognized organization. Over its first ten years it has added a skilled staff to run a large range of activities.
The Center works with six villages in the Cusco region. Weavers in Chinchero, Pitamarca, Chahuaytari, Accha Alta, Patabamba and Mahuaypampa are devoting great energy renewing their rich past of extraordinary textile designs and complex weaving techniques.
Concerned individuals in the United States have joined with Nilda Callañaupa to develop a broad base of support for the project. The Center has brought together supporters of the project from diverse backgrounds such as
With an increasing funding base, the Center’s efforts now provide great rewards for the weavers and their families. As friends and foundations continue their support, the efforts of Nilda and her staff will reach more villages and CTTC programs will expand.
One of the many supporters of the center is The Earth Preservation Fund. They support projects which are assisting educational, environmental, or cultural preservation.
It is becoming clear that the survival of diversity contributes to the valuable storehouse of world resources.
Textile systems developed in Peru over the millennia represent a treasury of techniques rare in the world. Most remain unknown outside of Peru. They are passed on, not by writing, but by the Andean process of person-to-person communication, by watching and practicing.
Peruvian weaving is a ritual activity with many layers of meaning.
Peruvian textiles honor Pachamama, Mother Earth. They express appreciation for the process of growth and generation and the concept of relatedness to other species and the natural world.
Many people find inspiration in the ideas of indigenous people who developed systems of survival in this hemisphere before the time of Columbus. Icons and symbols expressed in the arts that inspire a respect for the earth can help to keep alive our efforts at preservation and conservation.
How can we begin to address the issues of preserving Peruvian textiles when, even in isolated Peruvian villages, life is in the process of rapid change?
The Center’s approach is to visit, establish and maintain reciprocal relationships with selected weaving communities in the Cusco region. The first step is to appraise the state of the art in each village by interviewing community members, conducting a written survey and identifying the ways that the Center can encourage and support weavers and their families. For example, the Center purchases textiles to encourage talented weavers to continue weaving and learning while earning money to support their families.
Another approach used by the Center builds on the Andean tradition of partnerships formed between children learning to weave and experienced village weavers.The Center is encouraging elders in the communities, who carry rare information, to pass their expertise to the next generation. In one village, Chinchero,a program has been set up for school children to interview elders. Through oral history young people have already acquired valuable information about their heritage.
To promote virtuoso weavings, the Center is also beginning to offer a series of annual rewards to weavers in participating villages who show exceptional achievement.
Living in the Cusco area, Nilda Callañaupa is in a rare position to identify and acquire authentic Peruvian textiles before fine or rare pieces are sold and taken out of the country. In future years, the Center’s collection will become a reference for Peruvian weavers wishing to continue or revive the many varieties of Andean techniques and designs.
The collection will also be available to international scholars and weavers for study, for exhibit and eventually for publication.
The Center will establish a space in Cusco where weavers from villages can demonstrate, sell their work, interact with each other, and inform visitors and tour groups about fine Peruvian textiles. The new space will house the textile collection, where it will be exhibited and used for reference and research.
A central location in Cusco has the potential of serving as a much-needed visitors’ center for weavers and scholars, making available meeting, resource and seminar rooms. At the Center visitors will be able to view documentary photographs, information on textiles, and a collection of useful books,relevant artifacts and other materials.
While visiting the village of Pitumarca, Nilda Callañaupa made a rare discovery of a weaving technique, practiced as long ago as 500 AD,thought to be nearly extinct in the modern day. As this and other discoveries are published and presented, the public will gain a greater awareness and appreciation of Peruvian textiles and culture.
The Center is also attempting to identify the significance, meanings and origins of designs and techniques. In the village of Chinchero, over 80 weavers have been interviewed and 44 weaving patterns have been documented.
In the communities of Qello Qello, Saqaqa, Amaru, Pampallacta, Sipascancha,and Paru Paru, individuals have been identified who can still weave the geometric motifs thought to symbolize land patterns as seen from mountaintops. Some individuals in these communities can still weave delicate “ribbons”called jakimas or watanas which incorporate beadwork.
The Center is working with villagers of the Huilloc region where patterns are figurative and detailed. Some depict historical events. Others feature sacred animals as well as chickens, ducks, or wild rabbits which are close to the life of the community. Recently modern images have entered the complex weaving compositions of the village.
Some villages surround the “Sacred Valley of the Incas.” Others lie closer to dense jungle areas. The Vilcabamba region is known as the last refuge of the Incas. As an important historical area, it is especially pertinent to document information on these textiles.
Another region for study includes Cotabambas, an almost inaccessible village where weavers still make intricate belts with some designs that date to the thirteenth century.
Over the past 2000 years, a series of high civilizations flourished in South America. The Inca Empire served as the last of these kingdoms,incorporatingideas and themes expressed by those who came before them.Ancient Peruvian textiles are valued by the great museums of the world.Yet few people have the opportunity to discover the rich history and culture of the Southern
A goal of the Center for Traditional Textiles is to provide information through the textile arts of Peru, otherwise not available in our schools and universities.
Currently, the Center maintains an extensive educational web site, Descendants of the Incas (www.incas.org). Through newsletters, publications, exhibits,lectures, school presentations, teacher seminars, a traveling museum box,and weaving demonstrations, the Center is creating opportunities and holding events to introduce and communicate knowledge about South American weavers, their lives and their achievements.
Those of us interested in the preservation of worldwide cultures, the diversity of creative expression, and celebration of the textile arts, have a rare opportunity to make a difference by preserving the 2000-year-old
Won’t you join us to support the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco? You will receive our newsletter which includes information about the events and activities of the Center and ways that you can participate and learn more about the weaving communities, their families, and culture.
The Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco is a 501c3 public non-profit
Center for Traditional Textiles
THE EMAIL ADDRESS OF THE CENTER IN PURU IS firstname.lastname@example.org
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