TINKUY DE TEJEDORES 2010 URUBAMBA, PERU
The Tinkuy de Tejedores 2010 is over and I am back home in Bolivia wondering what hit me! There were four intense days of colors, sounds and new experiences… meeting up with old acquaintances, putting faces to online user names and making new friends while trying to absorb everything around me and learn as much as I could with a head spinning from a combination of altitude and information overload.
I didn’t bring back much in the way of physical souvenirs…the shoulder bag which was part of our registration package, a couple of spindles that I got in the Cusco market, two more which I swapped for one of my amulet bags with Maxima, a Bolivian weaver from Cochabamba, a locally published book on textiles which I bought at the airport while trying to use my leftover Peruvian Soles and some balls of handspun yarn left over from the workshop I took.
I didn’t buy any textiles but I did come back with a new weaving skill and lots of ideas about making textiles with discontinuous warps. I plan to warp for a very narrow plain warp faced piece with discontinuous warps in the next few days which I hope to decorate with supplementary wefts as this will be the easiest technique to start with. If that is a success, I will attempt a complementary warp technique. It was great having the opportunity to get a close look at some of the discontinuous warp pieces on the loom being woven by the ladies of Pitumarca. From what I can tell, the grey and brown warps dovetail around a metal rod when the loom is being warped. The pick-up pattern appears to cover the entire length of the grey panel with no terminal area – mind boggling, really! I wish I had spent more time with this weaver. This was the most amazing thing I saw at the tinkuy.
This piece has one of its four color panels complete. Done in all natural wool colors it is going to be spectacular. The unfinished areas are those that have been rolled up on the loom bar nearest the weaver.
It’s interesting that she has woven the grey panel, turned the loom around, and now seems to be working her way back. She has just started the bottom of panel three. Perhaps she will then turn the loom around once again to weave the other end of this panel and then go filling in the space in between. There are so many questions that I forgot to ask this weaver, like, at what point the metal bars around which the discontinuous warps dovetail, are removed and replaced with yarn. Well I shall just have to experiment and see for myself.
I am constructing a warping board for myself for my piece based on a picture in Nilda Callañaupa’s book pictured above.
So, as far as weaving skills go, I brought back ideas about the aforementioned discontinuous warp pieces and I learned the tubular woven bands of Chinchero and Patabamba in the workshop I took. If you have read my last two blog posts you will know that I recently learned how to make these tubular bands or ñawi awapa from instructions in Adele Cahlander’s book. I strongly suspect that Adele Cahlander figured these bands out by pulling them apart and studying the structure rather than by learning from the weavers themselves and she has been able to give instructions so that one can reproduce them.
EDIT: I have since been pointed to an article which says that Cahlander based her instructions on a partly woven specimen that had a complex arrangement of string heddles and shed loop so obviously the tubular woven bands were or are woven somewhere using this set up. As I said recently in a previous post…”There is no one “right” way”.
I find it amazing that she was able to analyze the specimen, compile excellent instructions for its reproduction and share all that with those who can’t travel to Peru and learn it themselves from the weavers.
However, the way we were taught in Chinchero by Nilda is SO MUCH easier!!
I took a partly woven band which I had warped up according to the Cahlander instructions with its string heddles to show the weavers and they were quite astonished by this strange set up. The green band above is the one I started in the workshop and finished at home. The red one was a gift for the workshop participants.
Another thing I took away from the tinkuy for my own weaving was lots of inspiration for color and design as well as a new respect for supplementary warp patterning (a technique of which I have never been a big fan) after having seen the amazing ponchos of the Chahuaytire and Accha Alta communities. A weaver from Accha Alta with her piece profusely patterned with supplementary warp patterns can be seen below. She is rolling the heddle stick towards her while pushing down on the warps behind in order to open the heddle shed.
I can’t believe that I am sitting here now at home in the tropical heat of the Bolivian lowlands while just one week ago I was making my way to Urubamaba at 2863 meters in the Peruvian highlands. I would say that of all the trips made by international visitors to the tinkuy mine was probably the shortest…just a one-hour flight from Santa Cruz to La Paz with enough time to stroll around outside the airport and take pictures of impressive Mount Illimani. In La Paz I met up with Dorinda and Maxima who were to be my roommates in Urubamba. I had met Dorinda Dutcher through WARP connections over a year ago and had corresponded with her by email. This was our first face-to-face meeting. Dorinda founded PAZA (Project Artesania Zona Andina) in the town of Independencia, Aypopaya province, an organization which she describes as “a Peace Corps project which became life’s calling”. She raised funds to be able to bring master weaver and PAZA coordinator Maxima Cortez with her to the tinkuy. The non-profit organization KURMI in Cochabamba also provided funding for a group of weavers to attend so we traveled from La Paz to Urubamba as a group of fourteen.
Witnessing the group’s reactions to all they experienced on this trip and at the tinkuy was another wonderful aspect of this whole journey. Please read Dorinda’s reports on the PAZA blog to learn more about her goals, challenges as well as volunteer opportunities with PAZA.
These ladies had been traveling literally for days! First, an eight-hour bus trip to Cochabamba followed by an overnight bus trip to La Paz before they could even get on the fifty-minute flight to Cusco. Then came the inevitable mess of paperwork on landing in Peru but no one’s spirit was dampened.
So when we got to Urubamba and made the mistake of getting off the bus too early, the ladies just took it in their stride, wrapped their luggage in their carrying cloths, hauled them onto their backs and took off up the road while I struggled along with bags in hand and dangling off my shoulder. Below you can see us lost at the gas station at the wrong end of town.
At the hostal I met lovely D.Y Begay, a Navajo weaver who had been invited to present at the conference. D.Y and I had been corresponding by email for some months and it was great to finally meet her. She was slated to be the first presenter of the conference and was a little inconvenienced by the fact that her luggage had not shown up.
The tinkuy comprised two days of conference with an incredibly heavy schedule of talks and presentations with breaks for drinks and snacks and weaving demonstrations. Lunch was followed by more weaving demonstrations and opportunities to buy textiles. If you were wise enough to arrive early in the morning you had the chance to mingle in a bit more leisurely way with the local weavers and spinners and avoid a bit of the chaos.
We gathered in the evenings in the conference auditorium for dancing, music, singing, spinning competitions, which were narrated by Abby Franquemont, and lots of laughter. Beth’s (of The Spinning Loft) young daughter competed on her wheel with a local spinner on a drop spindle as did Judith MacKenzie. I honestly don’t remember who won but I do remember that the Bolivian ladies from Cochabamba really strutted their stuff in speed spinning the following night and my roommate Maxima took home a prize having spun over six meters in two minutes.
I am just going to show you here now a selection of captioned photos which, I hope, will give you a feel for what went on in those two days and just how much we managed to pack in!
It all started with a ceremonial offering to Pachamama performed by an Andean priest accompanied by the sounds of the pututus, (conch shells), which were also blown to announce the start and finish of each guest speaker’s presentation. Everything was translated into three languages – Quechua, Spanish and English and the Quechua translator with his strong, clear dramatic tone of voice was a joy to hear.
There were at least two dozen national and international presenters over the two days. I was especially pleased to have been able to meet Mary Frame who spoke about Inca geometric figures called tukapu. I am determined to learn three color double weave so I can use some of those designs in my pieces.
In the talks we were taken on journeys from Mexico and Guatemala to Bolivia and around Peru from pre Incan and pre Hispanic times to present and taught about techniques from weaving and dyeing to administration and marketing.
Maiwa Productions showed us a wonderful video on indigo dyeing in India.
Some of the presentations I most enjoyed were those by the weavers in the communities that are involved in the Centro de Textiles Tradicionales de Cusco (CTTC). They spoke of their lives before and after their experience with CTTC, their struggles, successes, accomplishments, frustrations and failures while trying to revive their lost weaving traditions. The talk I enjoyed most of all was that given by a group of weavers who described the impact of weaving competitions on their motivation to continue weaving and improving, their self esteem and ability to solve problems and work as a team.
We witnessed the winning weavings and the prize-giving ceremony for the 2010 weaving competition.
Two other prize-winning pieces are shown below. All pieces had to meet the same requirements and have their thirty six panels of thirty centimeter squares. Every weaver has their own tension which means that no standard warp length can guarantee a thirty-centimeter finished length. The weavers who gave the presentation about the competitions let us in on some of the difficulties and disappointments they had to deal with in these projects and the problems they faced and overcame working as a groups rather than as individual weavers.
On both days during the afternoon break, the local weavers gathered in groups which gave us all plenty of nice photo opportunities as well as a good chance to learn the names of the different communities and, therefore, be better able to recognize their members by their outfits.
Well that was a “taste” of the daytime activities. The nightime dancing and spinning competitions were a little harder to capture on film with the dim lighting but I did get some video. All the video I shot of weaving, spinning, braiding and dancing will be on next week’s blog.
This was preceded by another ceremony in which the elders were invited to hand over sets of weaving tools to the youngsters in their communities.
So that was the two days of conference. Then came the workshops which I am saving for next week’s blog post along with the videos. And next week I will tell you about the other folks I met up with, some of whom I have been corresponding with by email or through my blog and others whom I met at Convergence. Betty Davenport, who is always lots of fun, was my companion in the little “down” time we had and we took the same workshop. Folks from Interweave were there too. The workshop days were more intimate and gave a lot of us a chance to chat and catch up. More about that next week.
And here is the amazing woman with the brilliant smile who is behind this unique event. It was not an ideal situation to meet Nilda for the first time. She was so busy and I don’t believe she stood still for a moment. Yet I learned a lot by watching her in action and seeing the warm affection she has for those who are lucky to be her friends, her passion for the CTTC and its goals and her love for her country and her people. Hopefully I will be able to go back one day to meet her again.
Part Two of my Tinkuy Tale can be seen here
One last message…
My Backstrap Basics article is now on the WeaveZine site in Spanish. The videos remain in English but are, hopefully, self explanatory.
Mi articulo “Backstrap Basics” (El Telar de Cintura) ya se puede leer en español en la pagina de WeaveZine. El audio de los videos sigue en ingles pero las imagenes son suficientes para entender.