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Preserving The Art And Tradition Of Peruvian Textiles
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It would be an understatement to say that Peruvian textiles are an integral part of the Andian social fabric. Would you believe a single article of clothing is created from several MILES of brightly colored thread and at one time was more valuable than material wealth such as gold or silver. Yet for all the sophistication of Peruvian textiles, the actual weaving process - even now in the 21st century - is very simple.
The raw wool of sheep, llamas, and alpaca is spun into thread with a device called a puska. It is a long, laborious process that risks being forgot due to the passage of time and the dawn of today's modern age.
On the Verge of Extinction?
Weaving Peruvian textiles is still considered a feminine occupation - a tradition that has been handed down over generations from mother to daughter. But the reality is that original techniques are giving way to stream-lined methodologies that include weaving with synthetic yarn on industrial machines. Certainly that speeds up production but it also lowers quality. Furthermore, modern technology risks the eradication of traditional teaching. In the Andean culture, textile systems developed in Peru are passed on, not by writing, but by the Andean process of person-to-person communication, by watching and practicing.
A New Generation of Weavers
Over the last 20 years or so, a variety of grassroots efforts have taken hold that look to bring back and cement the dignity of traditional peruvian textile weaving methods. Over time it has become apparent that agriculture cannot sustain the lifestyle of many Andean villages while production of peruvian textiles can supplement many family incomes. As a result, many companies are committed to purchasing peruvian textiles provided they are produced via traditional methods. This has created not only healthy competition among villages but has created new levels of craftsmanship among weavers. Above all it has motivated a new generation of individuals who want to preserve the Andean traditions of weaving peruvian textiles.
The future of peruvian textiles is one of excitement. Peru's Cusco region is fast-becoming an interactive environment where visitors can see first-hand the intricate skills involved in creating peruvian textiles. The oral traditions of weaving techniques - once on the verge of extinction - are being embraced by a new generation.
The world at large benefits from the beauty of peruvian textiles, but the deeper gratification is that Andean weaving traditions continue to be passed down and won't risk being forgotten..
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