Date of this Version
Published in Hidden Stories/Human Lives: Proceedings of the Textile Society of America 17th Biennial Symposium, October 15-17, 2020. https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/tsaconf/
Both their style of dress and, particularly, the textile designs that distinguish them already at a first look have made three ethnic groups stand out in south-central Bolivia: “Llameros,” “Yamparas,” and “Jalq’as” inhabit neighboring lands in the departments of Potos and Chuquisaca. Ethno-historians and archaeologists define the pre-conquest and early colonial past of these contemporary identities as only two groups: populations belonging to the great ayllus of the high plains, Norpotosinos (Llameros) and Yamparas, with their two political centers: janan (upper) in Jatun Yampara and urin (lower) in Quila Quila.
Today the panorama is more complex: the two Yamparas centers split and each sub-region has its own diacritical definitions. An analysis of the transformations in the textile patterns (pallays in Quechua), over the past one hundred years permits us, nonetheless, to perceive today a new path of integration by means of profound levels of visual-plastic language where only a joint reading permits an integral vision of the contemporary indigenous cosmos.
The European structuring of the world in three parts, imposed by Christianization, though reinterpreted, has given expression to these three regional identities: the Llameros designs and style of dress are Gloria or heaven, the Yamparas are this Earth of ours, those of the Jalq’a belong to Hell. How does the unity of plastic and sensual identity arise to permit the reading of three such different appearances as a single whole, the universe? That is the topic of this talk.