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Mahuaypampa

"Virgen Inmaculada Concepción" Weavers Association of Mahuaypampa

Lacalization: Province of Urubamba

Altitude: 11,105 f.a.m.s.l.

The community of Mahuaypampa, tucked into rolling hills of farmland, is located about 50 km (31 miles), or 1.15 hours by car, to the northwest of the city of Cusco in the Maras district. Just a short drive off of the highway that runs between Cusco and Urubamba in the Sacred Valley. Although Mahuaypampa is close-by to the famous archaeological site of Moray, an ancient Inka agricultural laboratory, very few people have a reason to visit this community. While many tourists visit the near-by town of Chinchero, both for its weaving as well as for the ruins of Tupaq Yupanqui, the community of Mahuaypampa remains virtually unknown to national as well as international visitors.  

As Mahuaypampa is situated on a high plane that is considered relatively flat for the Andes mountains (it is still quite hilly), community members make the most of this geographical gift and dedicate themselves mainly to agriculture and a lot less

to weaving. Fields in various stages of cultivation create a patchwork quilt of the countryside in greens, browns, and yellows, while the vibrant purple of potato flowers brings the landscape to life during the rainy season. At 3,385 meters (11,105 ft) above sea level, farmers grow a wide variety of potatoes, beans, and cereals. They also raise sheep, cows, pigs, chickens, guinea pigs, and other livestock. What people cannot raise or grow at this altitude, they barter for or buy from other farmers who come from the sunny climate of the Sacred Valley.

The elders of Mahuaypampa remember that the community was built along a trade route that connected the much-revered coca leaf plantations in the jungle (East), with the highland potato fields of Cotabambas (West). The trip to and from the jungle took many days and merchants would stop to rest at an uninhabited place along the route. Eventually, some traders thought to buy these lands and this is how the community of Mahuaypampa emerged on this ancient trade route. Coca is sacred in the Andes and plays an important role, not only in everyday life as an important source of vitamins, minerals, and the stamina needed for agricultural work at high altitude but also in many rituals and festivities. People share coca when resting from work while chatting amongst friends and other community members, during rituals for the planting of potatoes, and during many other activities. Though it is universally known in the Western world as the source of cocaine, the coca leaf has always been and will remain much more than what this negative stigma makes of it.

In 2000, a group of women weavers from Mahuaypampa formed the Virgen Inmaculada Concepción Weaving Association and joined the CTTC. ,  These association has worked with elder weavers to recover and pass on textile traditions that were almost lost. Today, approximately 30 Mahuaypampa adult weavers and 12 children and adolescents are once again weaving with natural fibers and natural dyes in the traditional style of their community.

About Mahuaypampa Textiles

Since agriculture is so important to the people of Mahuaypampa, weaving always takes a second place. This has made the local textiles look a lot simpler in comparison to other communities of the Andes. Nonetheless, the textiles are still quite intricate and beautiful with color combinations that reflect the local landscape. Weavers favor shades of red, pink, purple, green, and the natural grey of sheep wool. Mahuaypampa designs are normally small and narrow; weavers will often place multiple designs next to each other in order to build up the pattern section in their blankets. The main design of Mahuaypampa is mayu qenqo, which is said to represent the Milky Way. Mahuaypampa lliklla (blankets) are also characterized by a unique seam down the center that unites the two halves of the textile. This patterned seam is called pasñas (young women) and takes the form of small, multi-colored triangles which represent the large, full skirts that young women wear.

 

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