Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco


El Centro de Textiles Tradicionales de Cusco

Visit the CTTC’s new home

Message from the DirectorChanges that Affect Us AllSaving Cultural Heritage Join Nilda
and Friends
of the Center










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The Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco

El Centro de Textiles Tradicionales de Cusco

Visit  the home of the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco and you will be rewarded with a sense of the lives of Inca indigenous people today. Here you can see the great textile works still created today, a three thousand year tradition that has been continued and revived.

The Center building is located at 603 Av
Sol, beside the gardens of Koricancha, the Inca Temple of the Sun. The
CUSCO gives a sense of how textiles are used in Inca peoples’ lives.

In the museum shop you can meet and watch Inca people from the nine villages associated with the Center
as they demonstrate the process of weaving.

In the museum shop you will
find textiles of the highest quality.  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.


Message from the Director

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.

Changes that Affect Us All

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,
steep slopes and unpredictable weather. But we can no longer depend on the
agricultural systems of land planning and food store-housing put in place
by our Inca ancestors to assure that everyone received enough to eat in
bad years. Those systems were destroyed during colonial times.Families today
must find ways to supplement their income to meet their daily needs.

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.

Saving Cultural Heritage

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

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The Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco celebrated its tenth anniversary
with a large gathering in 2006. The Center was established in 1996 as a Special Project of Cultural Survival. The mission has been to aid in the preservation and
revival of Peruvian Inca textiles. Nilda and her supporters were responding to an
alarming development: the valuable 3000-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 now works with nine 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.

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Individuals in the United States and elsewhere who are inspired by the remarkably successful work of Nilda Callañaupa have develop a broad base of support for the project. The Center has brought
together supporters of the project from diverse backgrounds such as
anthropology, archaeology, ethnobotany, education, weaving, textile
arts and many many others.

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 reach
more villages and CTTC programs 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.

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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.

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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

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

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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.

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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

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.

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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.

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Over the past 2000 years, a series of high civilizations flourished in
South America. The Inca Empire served as the last of these kingdoms, incorporating
ideas 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
Hemisphere of the Americas.

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 ( 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.

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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
Peruvian heritage.

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.

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The email address of the center in Peru is

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All Text © 1999-2012