Posts Tagged ‘Weaving’

Peru: A Brief History

With approximately 500,000 visitors each year, Manchu Picchu is one of the most visited tourist cites in the world. To visit Manchu Picchu is to feel what it must have been like for the Andean people hundreds of years earlier, it is a truly awe inspiring experience. However, for the Andean people, over the past hundred years, many things have changed.

Whereas tourism is the mainstay of Peru’s economy today, a hundred years ago the primarily industries were agriculture and textile production. Agriculture was important because it provided sustenance to the Andean people. Textile was important for them to keep warm, but textiles were also a valuable commodity and had great symbolism within the Andean regions.

During religious practices, cloth was the main ceremonial offering, and was used to show tribute to the elite. The practice of weaving was so sacred to the Andean people that shrines devoted solely to weaving were erected and worshiped. After colonization by the Spanish, Andean people wore woven textiles in assertion of their indigenous identity.

Over time, the Andean people’s lives have changed dramatically. Many have left their communities to seek out work as porters or cooks that cater to the influx of tourists visiting Peru each year. Others have to travel great distances each day to sell goods in city shops and markets, and the ancient tradition of textile manufacturing that was once such an integral part of the Andean culture is now on the verge of becoming extinct.

Tourism: The Sustainable Way

Danielle Weiss, Project Manager for Planeterra Foundation recently spoke with me about their project in Ccaccaccollo Peru.

 Since 2005, Planeterra has been working with the women of the Ccaccaccollo community to develop a weaving project. Three women from the Ccaccaccollo Community took part in a three-month training course held by a local non-profit organization in which they learned ancient weaving techniques including how to dye the wool using native flowers and plants. Each of the three women continued to teach the rest of the women what they had learned and today more than just women have joined together to create the Ccaccaccollo Women’s weaving co-op.

Gap Adventure groups visit this community as part of the Sacred Valley Tour where they have the opportunity to meet the women and learn about all the stages of the weaving process; from spinning the sheep wool, to dying the wool using natural dyes, and participating in a weaving demonstration. Travelers are also given the opportunity to purchase high quality textiles directly from the women who made them.

The Woman’s weaving co-op is an incredible example of just how tourism can be used to benefit the communities that they visit. The women economically benefit from the tourism that the weaving co-ops bring to their region, while avoiding the negative social and cultural impacts of having to leave their communities to find work. Ninety-five percent of all money earned at the co-op goes directly to the women and five percent is given back to the community to ensure its continued growth. The living conditions, healthcare, and educational standards within the community have all increased due to this project, and a younger generation is finding a new sense of pride in their cultural heritage.

Planeterra Foundation is an organization that truly changes people lives!

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