Back in April, my blog about the loss of tourism in Peru meant the loss of income to the weavers of the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco (CTTC). Now, months later, we all know so much more about loss due to COVID 19, having experienced all kinds in our daily lives. Six months ago, the virus hadn’t reached the Peruvian Highlands. In fact, it stayed away from the remote villages for all these months. New medical research was supporting the notion that people living in the high altitudes in Peru may not be prone to the virus. Sadly, this is no longer the case.
This week, we heard from Nilda Callañaupa, the founder and director of CTTC with disheartening news: “The covid arrived so strongly to the Cusco region in the last 2-3 weeks to Cusco, the dream of the virus was not going to affect us in other parts due to the altitude only being a dream. Many people around us got it, some of them very badly sick, some neighbors, friends and family, it was not a good time, I think most of them are recovering in a positive way. Some weavers got sick, my brother in law was very sick, a young family husband of friends has sick nephews, etc. hospitals and clinics are collapsed and very expensive, a very scaring time.”
Textiles + Fundraising
ClothRoads and Andean Textile Arts continue to look for other ways of raising funds to assist the weavers and their families. For ClothRoads, we haven’t been able to get new textiles from CTTC as shipping from Peru is quite problematic. Plus, CTTC isn’t able to reopen its doors as Cusco is back under quarantine measures so staff can’t get into the office to work. BUT Andean Textile Arts has a very special fundraising plan that supports both challenges: textiles and fundraising. This Thursday, August 27 at 8:00 a.m. ET, the auction A Bid for the Future kicks off with an offering of 60 unique textiles. Through Sept 2, you can bid on a wide range of beautiful Andean textiles (from Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru), from vintage to contemporary pieces, from large wall pieces and wearables to smaller treasures to fit any budget. It’s your chance to help Andean artisans while treating yourself to some exceptional Andean textiles. Previewing is available now.
A Community Blanket
I donated a very special piece from my private collection–a community weaving. While hard to give up, I know the weavers will benefit from it twice–the first time I purchased the community piece and the second with the funds raised from the auction.
Since 2005, CTTC has been organizing weaving contests among the member weaving communities as a way of acknowledging the abilities of the weavers who have been carrying on the rich heritage of traditional textiles in the Cusco region. Many of the weavers never had the opportunity to receive any recognition before so this collaboration became very important. Every year, the communities choose a theme, design a textile based on that theme, and weavers from each community must make a square that fits uniformly with all the other pieces for the whole. This process teaches the weavers how to work together, take measurements, meet deadlines, and fosters a sense of pride (and some competitiveness too!) A date is given for pieces to be completed and independent judging takes place among all the submitted pieces from the 10 communities. Awards and prizes are given.
This collaboration blanket from the Chahuaytire community took third place in 2014. (Rarely are the first and second place pieces ever for sale as they are in CTTC’s archive). The blanket is composed of six panels (three on each side of the center solid one); each panel is 6″ wide and each panel contains ten different embroidered designs, each design is 6″ square. The center 24″ panel is woven in deep purples and browns and displays embroidered flowers. The edging is meticulously finished with a looping embroidery stitch (kumpay), a stitch used on textiles during the Incan Empire. The blanket is handwoven with naturally dyed, handspun yarn with motifs all hand embroidered. Just think–this one has the work of over 60 weavers from the Chahuaytire community. All those hands, all that talent. It could be yours!
Phone Cards Give Access to Education
If you don’t want to (or can’t) acquire more textiles, consider a purchase of a phone card which allows cell phone time for the village children to attend school remotely. Most families don’t have computers but they do have cell phones. Children call in to their class but the family’s cell phone keeps running out of time. Buying a $10 card will help tremendously.
We realize this is a difficult time for all. You may not have the means to support the weavers, but consider sharing this auction information on to others who may be interested. We are grateful for any support.
Bidding starts Thursday, August 27th.