1st Textile Center: "Away Riqcharicheq" Weavers Association of Chinchero

Lacalization: Province of Urubamba

Altitude: 12,342 f.a.m.s.l.

Chinchero has been known as the birthplace of the rainbow, long before it  became the birthplace of the CTTC. Located 28 km to the north of the city of Cusco on a high rolling plain, Chinchero over looks stunning views of the Urubamba cordillera. Here, rainbows frequently arch across potato fields after thunderstorms, life-supporting rain that farmers need for their crops. Chinchero is the capital town of a district that goes by the same name and is located on a major highway that connects the city of Cusco with the town of Urubamba in the Sacred Valley. Thousands of tourists pass through Chinchero in route either to or from Machu Picchu, while many make the quick stop to visit the ruins of Tupaq Yupanqui and the colonial church located at the heart of Chinchero.

The colors of the rainbow are not only found emblazoned across the sky in this

Andean town, but are also woven into the very textiles of Chinchero. These magnificent weavings have gained international recognition in the last few decades. This fame is, in great part, because of  the hard work of the members of the Away Riqcharicheq Weaving Association, who have worked  tirelessly since the 1960s to recover their ancestral designs and brought forward  their weaving traditions. It has been through this association´s research and publications that  Chinchero is now recognized worldwide  as a prominent weaving town; the impact of  reviving tradition has also allowed the community to thrive. Dozens of other weaving centers and associations have blossomed in the wake of this pioneering work led by the original Away Riqcharicheq Weaving Association.

About Chinchero Textiles

In Chinchero, community members traditionally weave with the complementary warp faced technique, which allows the weavers to make two-sided textiles, that is, both sides of the textile are correct and can be used, as there is neither a front nor a back side. Beginning in the 20th century, weavers also began to learn ley, or single-sided supplementary warp, a technique that is used more prominently by other communities in the region. Today, Chinchero community members only weave certain textiles like lliklla (blankets) with local traditional textiles. However, they have incorporated a variety of designs and techniques from other communities for other kinds of textiles which are often made for sale.

Chinchero lliklla, or traditional blankets, showcase  a wide section of blue, red and/or green plain weave and other symmetrical sections with  designs. When natural indigo dye disappeared in the 20th century, many weavers chose to weave the traditionally blue section in black. For this reason, many Chinchero blankets from the early to mid 20th century have black plain weave rather than blue. Since the 1990s, the weavers of the Away Riqcharicheq  Weaving Association have worked extremely hard to recover the secrets of natural dyeing and teach it to not only the rest of their community but to other communities in the Cusco region as well. Today, the people of Chinchero have been able to reintroduce the use of natural dyes, such as indigo, cochineal red and chilka green, and use it on the plain weave sections of their lliklla.

Luraypu is the main iconography of Chinchero and figures prominently in the center of design sections. Weavers typically place a number of smaller motifs  to the either side of luraypu and in this way, build up the design section of their textiles. Chinchero community members are particularly proud of this special weaving pattern, and  also of their unique border  technique called ñawi awapa. This border is simultaneously woven and sewn onto the edges of blankets, ponchos, and other textiles to protect edges from unraveling with use. In this extremely unique technique, the weft of the border is also the thread used to sew the border onto the textile at the same time that it is woven.

As Chinchero is easily accessible to most visitors, the women of this association offer weaving demonstrations and run a small store where one can find beautiful textiles from all ten weaving communities that partner with the CTTC. If you are interested in visiting Chinchero for a weaving and dyeing demonstration, please contact us or simply drop-by the Chinchero association any day of the week between 8:30 am – 4:00 pm to meet the weavers.

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