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The Revival of Ancient Techniques


Mummy Juanita’s Textile Replica

During 2006 and 2007, the CTTC in conjunction with the National Geographic held, for the first time, a research project on the textiles of the ice maiden who was found by Johan Reinhardt on the Ampato volcano in Arequipa (at 6000 meters above sea level). After Reinhardt's important findings, being this the best-preserved Inka mummy in the Andes, the remains of the 12-year-old girl was baptized as "Juanita". Studies surrounding Juanita have been based on diverse chronicles that describe the occurrence of special ceremonies called Capaccocha which occurred during the Incan era. During these ceremonies men, women and children were presented as offerings; the children who were sacrificed were considered divine and were thought to serve as messengers to the gods.

During the research project with the National Geographic, the weavers of the CTTC were able to visit the Museo Santuarios Andinos - MUSA in Arequipa to meet Juanita and see her remarkable clothing, with the aim of making a replica. However, it wasn't easy to closely examine the patterns present in the textiles due to their state of preservation. Later, the CTTC received a number of photos along with valuable information from the team who was researching the textiles of the “Lady of Ampato”. With that material, the weavers from Chinchero started to experiment and work on replicating the fine pieces. It was very difficult to figure out the technique in which they were constructed, at first, the weavers thought Juanita's textiles had solely been woven on tapestry technique (weft-faced) and not on the warp-faced technique too. The studies showed that, in fact, during the Inka period, these types of textiles were woven in both techniques.

With concentration and dedication, the weavers not only from Chinchero but the rest of the weavers associations were able to reproduce with mastery the Dama de Ampato’s clothing, which consisted of the axu or dress, the lliklla or blanket, and the chumpi or sash. An important part of the recovery and preservation of textile traditions present in Juanita's ceremonial clothing was the study of the complex finishing, or border, present in both her axu and lliklla. This edging, called kumpay, presents a highly intricate finishing technique with a kind of looping technique with multiple color applications. Throughout the years, the CTTC has organized competitions for the weavers in order to master the re-introduced ancient techniques and achieve the finest replica of the Mummy Juanita's textile repertoire.


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