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Capturing the Past in Cusco, Peru
Nilda Callañaupa had a vision decades ago. She imagined a museum that would showcase the traditions and textiles of her people, the Quechua descendents of the Incas of the Andean highlands.
There’s a long story behind that vision, but the short version is that the museum exists today in a prominent location in Cusco, Peru. It’s adjacent to a lovely retail gallery of traditional-style textiles, handspun, natural-dyed, backstrap woven. On any given day, visitors can shop for textiles, take in the historical context in the museum, and watch traditional spinners and weavers plying their crafts.
The museum is a trove of traditional costume and household textiles.
You can see excellent examples of mantas, carrying cloths, skirts with tapestry borders, men’s ponchos, woven potato sacks, intricate sling braids, costumes, and more.
You can see the myriad dyestuffs that create rainbows of color, and the sheep and camelid fibers that are so important to the culture and economy of the Andes.
It’s a beautifully curated little museum that presents traditional Cusquenian culture in a nutshell.
Thrums Books, a sister company of ClothRoads, recently published a bilingual catalog of the museum, titled Weaving Lives: Traditional Textiles of Cusco.
It’s an introduction and overview to the rich and varied textile heritage of the region. If you own Andean textiles, or purchase some from ClothRoads, this little catalog is a fine accompaniment, giving the story behind the cloth.