Beginning in the late 1970s, Chinchero weavers have worked as a group organized by Nilda Callanaupa, a native of Chinchero, with the mission of reviving ancient Chinchero weaving styles and techniques. At the time of the inception of the group, Chinchero’s textile tradition was dying out due to demographic changes and the growth of the tourist market, which demanded more homogenized, non-traditional weavings. As a result, the weavers were using aniline dyed colors and synthetic yarns to produce very simple textiles that did not reflect the community’s ancient weaving style and aesthetic.
The group of weavers and their children joined the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco in 1996 and its mission to ensure that the ancient traditions of textiles would not be lost. There are 30 weavers and 35 children, who first learn to weave narrow bands of jakimas in traditional patterns, ensuring that the tradition is passed to the next generation.
The principle objectives of the weavers are: to weave the ancient patterns, revive the use of natural dyes, to produce high quality textiles of natural fibers, to reintroduce the traditional dress and the use of traditional textiles in the home, and to commercialize their high quality textiles in order to generate a sustainable income.
The president of the weavers’ association notes: “We strive to achieve the highest quality, and therefore only sell new textiles. All of our weavings are made from natural fibers and we use all natural dyes to create our colors. Each piece is woven by hand and then reviewed to ensure that there are no errors. We also wash and iron all the textiles to guarantee that the colors will not fade and that the textiles will remain in top condition.”
Textiles in the village of Chinchero are woven on a backstrap loom using sheep, alpaca and llama wool. The majority of the patterns in Chinchero are created using the warp complimentary technique, which results in double-faced patterns.
Textiles woven in Chinchero are also available for sale in Cusco at the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco, a non-profit organization established in 1996 to aid in the survival of Incan textile traditions and to provide support to weaving communities. The Center also sells textiles woven in eight other Peruvian communities.