Linda Ligon, publisher of our sister company Thrums Books, recently wrote a blog about who will be carrying on the textile-making traditions into the next generation. We’re sharing her blog here and doing a big shout-out for their newest release, Las Tradiciones Viven! (As you’re reading this, I will be meeting with some of the young weavers in Peru and I can’t wait to hear what they think of the final book that they helped create.)
“One of the biggest concerns, for those of us who love and work with indigenous textiles from around the world, is “Who will carry on the traditions?” Young people once learned from their elders, stayed in their home villages, got a sixth-grade education at most, married young, and spun and wove for the rest of their lives for subsistence wages. Today they carry cell phones to connect to the outside world and aspire to go to high school or university. The allure of a profession in the city is powerful. To seek an easier, more forward-looking life should be their right. But then what about those exquisite traditional textiles, the ones that require weeks or months of skilled work for low pay?
Pondering this dilemma, Joe Coca and I kicked off a project when we were in Cusco in 2015 shooting photography for Secrets of Spinning, Weaving, and Knitting in the Peruvian Highlands. Working with Sarah Lyons, Education Director for the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco (CTTC), we gave digital cameras to the Young Weavers groups in each of the ten CTTC villages and asked them to take photographs of traditional life in their communities, which we would then craft into a book. Follow-up workshops at Tinkuy 2017 with 130 kids gave them the chance to learn a bit about how books are made. Each kid will receive his or her own copy of the book.
Las Tradiciones Viven! Ñawpa Yachayninchiskunaqa Kawsanmi is a beautiful little book, and it’s inspiring to look at village life through the eyes of the young people.They have reflected on their weaving and their clothes, of course, and on the daily work of farming and tending flocks. There are vivid depictions of some of the festivals that pace the seasons, and personal celebrations such as weddings (both traditional and modern) and a funeral. There’s a delightful sequence on a little boy’s first hair-cutting in Mahuaypampa, which parallels the story of a little girl going through the same ordeal in Libby VanBuskirk’s Beyond the Stones of Machu Picchu.
I could go on and on—the 88 pages are packed with images and descriptions from all the village Young Weavers groups. The kids were very definite that they wanted the book to be bilingual—Spanish and Quechua—but we’ve included an English translation in the back. The book was printed in Peru, but we’ve imported a limited number, which you can buy now from ClothRoads.
Las Tradiciones Viven! doesn’t answer that critical question of who will be practicing the traditional textile arts in future years, but it clearly reveals how bright, attentive, and insightful this young generation is and how much they love and appreciate the traditions of their elders and their communities.There are future leaders among them, and they’ve been inculcated with the values of CTTC.”