Creating a Future for Andean Textiles…
Researching techniques and designs to bring them back into the communal conscious is only half the battle of the CTTC. Teaching this knowledge forward to the next generation is a never ending commitment. The future of Cusqueñan textiles rests in the hands of the young people from the communities, they will be responsible for living this rich tradition for many years to come, and for teaching their children and grandchildren.
About 15 years ago, a group of children from Chinchero came together and dubbed themselves the Jakima Club. They wanted to learn how to weave because they were interested in creating the beautiful textiles of their home primarily to sell and support their studies. Jakima are the narrow ribbons that all children learn to weave on, and these young girls were no exception. Soon, however, they were weaving larger textiles: belts, small bags, and eventually the large blue and red blanket of Chinchero. Today these children are now young women. Some are studying archaeology, anthropology, tourism, and medicine at universities in Cusco. Some are weavers at the Away Weaving Association in Chinchero. Others work at the CTTC. All of them have arrived at this point in their lives supported by the income from their weaving.
Inspired by Chinchero’s example, the Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco helped the other weaving associations organize groups of children. The name Young Weavers Groups was chosen because jakima are known by different names in different communities. Today, nine of the ten weaving associations support Young Weaver Groups who gather each Saturday or Sunday in their weaving center. They study with the elder weavers, learning the designs and techniques of their community and the traditions surrounding them.
In a country where the public school system is deplorable at best, after-school activities are a learning opportunity that most have little concept of. The Young Weaver Groups help fill this void. They provide a supportive space where the children can socialize, learn from each other, and form friendships that will be the basis of their inter-community relationships. As they learn to weave from the adult association members, they also learn the skills of community organization, leadership, and how the association is managed. The young weavers will inherit not only the responsibility of continuing traditions, but also the difficult job of governing themselves as an association of specialized weavers.
Today the weaving skills of the children are truly impressive. From the youngest to the oldest, their thread is fine while their design knowledge is wide. Even more impressive, however, is their enthusiasm; it is infectious. They love spending time weaving together, and they are hungry to learn more. The most important work of the CTTC is to support these children in their quest to discover more about their traditions and to teach them the skills they will need in the future to organize themselves.
Since 2015 the Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco has placed special focus on the Young Weavers Groups, organizing activities, programs and other events for the children. If you would like to read more about the specific programs we run, please see below for more information.
Much work remains to be done, however, and the CTTC is striving to revive the Young Weaver Group in the tenth community as well as to establish the Young Weaver Advancement Program. This program will train talented young weavers to run the Education Department in the future. Who better to manage educational programs for the weavers, the young weavers, and the general public than the people who know the most about it? The CTTC is confident that under their future leadership, the Education Department will truly reflect a space dedicated to inter-cultural understanding.
To realize these dreams for the young weavers, the Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco relies on grant monies and donations from our committed supporters. If you would like to take part in creating a future for the young weavers and Cusqueñan textile traditions, please consider making a donation in their name. It will make more of an impact than you can possibly imagine.