Lacalization: Province of Calca
Altitude: 12,467 f.a.m.s.l.
The community of Patabamba is tucked high up in the mountains overlooking the Sacred Valley and the town of Pisac. With stunning views of the valley floor and the mountains that shoot up sheer on the other side, Patabamba could be the perch of condors at 3,800 meters (12,467 ft) above sea level. The one-hour drive to Patabamba starts off on the highway to Pisaq, but then takes a left-hand turn at the small town of Ccorao where a rutted, dirt road begins its twisted ascent up into the mountains. At just 37.5 km (23 miles) from the city of Cusco, Patabamba is the second closest community that the CTTC partners with. Despite its proximity, Patabamba still feels quite remote.
So close to the city of Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca empire, it is no surprise that Patabamba is surrounded by beautiful archaeological remains. From the ruins of Pisaq, that can be seen on the other side of the Sacred Valley, to the
lesser known but equally impressive ruins of Huch’uy Qosqo (Little Cusco), just a short walk up the road. With this, the weavers of Patabamba are reminded on a daily basis of their historic past. Above the community, fish swim in a mountain lake that glitters in the harsh sunlight that comes with high altitude. A lake of this size is relatively rare at this height, and the people of Patabamba take advantage of all that it provides. From the trout to the grassy lands around the shore, where the comuneros can graze their herds of sheep and llamas. Remains of the Qhapaq Ñan, the Great Road system of the Inka, can be found in the high mountain around this lake, parts of which are still traversable to this day and continue to be used by local people.
The weaving tradition of Patabamba almost disappeared as just a handful of elders knew how to weave. Since partnering with the CTTC in 2001 and forming the Away Paccharichiq Pallay Tika Weaving Association, the women of Patabamba have embraced their weaving tradition and are learning and rescuing designs, techniques, and styles from their elders. Today, approximately 40 adult weavers and 30 children and adolescents are members of the Patabamba weaving association. They are masters at spinning, weaving, and knitting as well as a number of pre-Colombian techniques including double weave and Paracas looping. The weavers of the Patabamba association take special interest in learning and recovering pre-Columbian techniques, their skill at stitching tiny figures in the looping technique is surpassed by none. The pride that they take in their unsurmountable skill is palpable in every thread, and it is, without exaggeration, required to use a magnifying lens to truly appreciate the magic that the Patabamba weavers work in this technique that came from the ancient Paracas and Nasca.
About Patabamba Textiles
The women of Patabamba weave their traditional lliklla (blankets) with a wide section of plain weave, often in red, green, blue or pink, and with narrower sections of designs in complementary warp faced weave. Around the edges of these blankets, they will often sew a strip of blue, green, or red fabric and embroider over with designs of flowers, birds, and fish in white thread. A strip of cloth is bound around the edges of a blanket to protect the textile from fraying with use. The weavers of Patabamba will sometimes extend their embroidery from the corners of their blankets up into the center so that aesthetically the embroidery unites the protective edge fabric with the larger composition of the textile. While embroidery designs often represent birds, fish and local flowers, woven designs in the blanket tend to be block-like figures that almost look like tocapu, the famed geometric patterns woven by the Inka into their finest textiles.
"When I was a young girl, my mother didn`t want us to eat next to where she was warping because it was bad luck. It was like eating the threads that were being used for warping, and as consequence of this there wouldn`t be enough threads to complete the warping project."
"The design called Tanka Ch`uru is the father and mother of designs. They say that if one doesn`t learn this design first, one will never learn the Others."