Lacalization: Province of Calca
Altitude: 12,631 f.a.m.s.l.
Chahuaytire, one of the communities pertaining to the famed district of Pisac, is located 53 km (25 miles) from the city of Cusco, half an hour by road up into the mountains at an altitude of 3,850 meters (12,631 ft) above sea level. It is located on one of the Inca roads that connected Cusco to the jungles of the eastern lowlands. This ancient road continued to be heavily traveled the construction of the modern road that passes through Chahuaytire. Until recently, people still traveled the old road with packs of llamas carrying loads of potatoes and other products to the jungle to sell or trade, after which they would return to the highlands with coca leaves, fruits, coffee, natural dyes, and more.
Like other communities of the Cusco region, the weavers of Chahuaytire live surrounded by the remains of ancient civilizations. Besides pre-historic cave paintings, the ruins of chullpas belonging to the pre-Inca period can also be found in Chahuaytire; these circular structures were most likely tombs. The 16th-century chapel and colonial church testify to the Colonial Period.
About Chahuaytire Textiles
The Inka Pallay Weaving Association of Chahuaytire was one of the first associations to partner with the CTTC in 1999. The weavers of this community have inherited two principal textile techniques defined by gender. Ley, or supplementary warp faced weave, is only woven by men mostly weaving their ponchos following a highly varied repertoire of designs. Ponchos typically have but a very narrow plain weave section, being dominated by designs called tika qocha, or lakes with flowers and many other details. Weaving a poncho requires a lot of skill, patience, and time due to the immensity of threads that the men have to pick up and/or drop to create the patterns.
Pumasillu and Chilis, or complementary warp faced weave, is woven by women into their lliqlla (blankets), scarves, bags, and other items in a great variety of designs. Complementary warp is a pre-Colombian technique that produces designs on both sides of the textile but with the colors reversed. Of the two techniques, complementary warp faced weave is considered harder and more labor intense to weave than supplementary warp faced weave.
Another important textile technique of Chahuaytire is fish rib cloth where weavers combine lloque (S-spun yarn) and pana (Z-spun yarn) into their textile to give the finished piece a special texture with unique properties. While warping, weavers will incorporate sections of lloque and pana into the pampa (plain weave sections) and to the border of the textile, which gives the textile a fish rib texture while also preventing corners from curling up and ensuring that the textile lays flat with less bumps and torsion. Besides large textiles like lliqlla and poncho, the weavers of Chahuaytire also weave watana, small ribbons with sequins sewn onto the surface which they use as decorations on their hats.
Chahuaytire is especially well known for the stunning color combinations that weavers are exceptionally good at creating, as well as the incredibly high quality of their weaving, the detailed finishes on borders and seams (including the tika embroidery stitch), and for the reproduction of historic textiles such as San Martin’s poncho amongst others. Both Chahuaytire men and women are proud of their truly exquisite and fine textiles (some of the finest in the Cusco region) as well as their arduous work to recover ancient techniques and designs.
The main festival happens during the carnival season. The most well-known is the celebration of Tinkuy Chiuchillani.- Gathering high in the mountain Chiuchillani, this community celebration happens yearly on the day of Comadres day (celebration of women) in the Cusco region. The ritual starts very early in the morning, with a meeting of men of the community. Then, they start to walk up to the mountains doing a pilgrimage along the community boundaries, demarcating them from their neighboring communities. In the afternoon, after lunch, the gathering in at the top of the mountain
s Chiuchillani begins along with dancers, musicians, women, and men from all the communities around Chahuaytire. The participants: women, men, and especially single women and young boys come wearing their best new clothes and textiles together with the dancers dressed in
“Mayu inti [a design] is the constellation [the Milky Way] that one sees at night in the sky and the half-round is the representation of the sun. It would be possible to say it is a representation of night with the mayo [Milky Way] and of day with the sun.”
“In Chahuaytire we sometimes spin to the left (counter clockwise) and we call it lloque. We use the resulting yarn in various ways. For example, pregnant women tie it to their ankles and waist so that this thread will protect them from bad desires, bad winds, and such. Also, we put these threads around the necks of new-born animals to protect them. In the same way, we use stripes of threads twisted to the left and ones twisted to the right in the warp of some of our weavings, especially in the borders of our mantas so that the corners won’t curl. Moreover, this prevents bad energy from being received through our mantas. Although, now the younger generation no longer believes much in this because they receive health services from itinerant doctors.”
“Through their clothing and weavings, we can tell where the people come from who travel to our community. We can identify them immediately, and many times we even know the purpose of their visit.”