High in the Andes Mountains of Peru, lies the rural village of Patacancha. Here the villagers dress in traditional clothing, speak the ancient language of “Quechua”, and live their lives in much the same way as their ancestors did.
Sustaining themselves through farming, and raising livestock, the Quechua people live a rugged, primitive life, with very little in the way of material comforts.
Their homes are typically constructed of adobe bricks, with dirt floors and a clay, tin, or thatched roof. Food is cooked over an open fire, created by burning the branches of Eucalyptus trees, which grow abundantly in the region.
In addition to farming and raising livestock, the Quechua women carry on the tradition of their ancestors—weaving. This ancient skill has been passed down for generations, and children as young as the age of six are taught how to weave.
Darn is dyed using natural materials from plants and minerals, in a cast-iron pot over an open flame. Babies are often “in-tow”.
All generations are involved and contribute to producing woven pieces. Women in groups of two or more work together to spin yarn. The women weave on backstrap looms, where one end of the warp (vertical thread) is tied around a tree trunk or post, and the other end around the weaver’s waist.
ln early 2009, with the mission of creating more economic opportunity for the Quechua women, the N.G.O. “Awamaki” was founded. They established weaving cooperatives, which allow the women to refine their skills, and sell their weavings to a broader market. In this way, the women are helped financially, while still retaining their traditional values and ways of life.