Monday, June 2, 2014

Bucket List Checked: Peru (p.6)

For millennia, women have sat together spinning, weaving and sewing.
~ Elizabeth Wayland Barber

When we started planning our trip to Peru, one of the things I was most excited about was the opportunity to see and learn more about the traditional weaving that is still being done by hand in many of the small villages.

That part of the trip definitely didn't disappoint!  (Not that ANY part of the trip disappointed...)

At a roadside display, we saw this exhibit showing the natural fibers (hanging from a rope in the upper foreground) and the natural plants and minerals that were used to dye those fibers:

They even showed how the fibers are dyed, soaking in pots of water heated by a fire:

And here are the results!

I THINK that the picture above shows the results of natural dyes and the picture below shows the results of artificial (chemical) dyes - but I can't swear to that.

And then there were the weavers themselves...  Everyone I saw was weaving like this - the far end of their warp attached to a post or pole of some sort and the other end attached around their bodies with a type of belt.

Both women and men weave - it isn't considered a "female" activity.

Although the tasseled caps appeared to be a fashion choice unique to the men!  ;)

Take a look at some of the patterns they were weaving...

Aren't they breathtaking?

Turns out that the weaving I do isn't considered "hand made" because I use a loom!  Never mind that it is purely human-powered (no electricity) and completely manual (nothing automated)...  I use a "machine", so it's not hand made...

Their weaving is much more flexible than the weaving I do on my loom - on any given row, they can raise ANY pattern of warp threads before adding a row of weft.  I am limited to lifting some combination of 1 to 3 (out of 4) fixed subsets of my warp threads at any given time.

Also, they remember hundreds (if not thousands) of patterns without reference books or software programs - two of my favorite resources!  ;)

Finally, if that's not more than enough, they can take a break at any spot in their weaving and then pick it back up again without any problems.  I have to finish a complete repetition before I can take a break, so that I always know to start at the beginning of a repetition.

(Okay, that last one might have been a bit of an exaggeration - with some work I can usually figure out what row I'm on in any given rep, but it's much easier if I always stop after completing one full sequence.)

We saw weavers and woven goods for sale almost every day during our trip - the second day there we drove up to a tiny village high in the Andes mountains, Willoq, and visited this center where the women given weaving demonstrations and sell their creations.  

We took a couple of pounds of tangerines and bananas, as fruit does not grow at that altitude and it is a special treat for the children - some pictures of them tomorrow.  :)

(One of the staff at our hotel advised us to hand out fruit instead of coins, because the children would "just waste the money at internet cafes"!)  

Yes, that is a baby on her back.  :)

Of all my weaving-related experiences in Peru, my favorite was the hour or so I spent, one evening, sitting with a weaver at our hotel - sharing stories (and pictures of my loom and rag rugs - thanks to an internet connection and my tablet!) and learning about her weaving.  She even gifted me with a pattern that she designed herself!  She painstakingly recreated it verbally and I recorded it in Excel, by shading in some of the cells.  

Believe it or not - we're friends on Facebook now!  ;)  

Thanks for sticking with me during all these travelogue posts - tomorrow's will be the last.  I'll have pictures of many of the children that we saw - some of my favorite pictures from the whole trip!  

1 comment:

  1. Gwen... Thanks for posting about your trip to Peru. The pictures are wonderful. All those natural dyed fibers and gorgeous woven pieces.Truly inspiring. Terri