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/
In Aymara culture, textiles have played a fundamental role as highly valued community possessions and significant media for ritual and tradition. In Chilean territory, the Colchane community has been fortunate, because they have here retained, with fidelity and vigor, their culture and traditional textile practices. However, the average age of active weavers is rising and those younger do not have the technical expertise of their elders, which has led to the loss of a significant part of traditional technical knowledge.
To not forget the “handwork” became an urgent concern for artisans in the community, members of the Aymar Warmi association, who sought the support of textile professionals to develop a project that would permit them to organize in order to recover the know-how to make some pieces that they had ceased to weave.
Between 2015 and 2016, we carried out the project “Memoria Textil: Reproducción y muestra de una selección aymara de Colchane,” (Fondart N 80940) which sought to revitalize local traditional weaving by creating a collection of textile pieces representative of inherited expertise. The collection remained on display in the community as reference materials to be consulted by the weavers.
In the project, a methodology was defined in which the professionals assumed the role of facilitators and guides, with all decisions made by the weavers. This led to greater recognition from their peers for local teachers, who directed the transmission of knowledge that went beyond the technical and practical sphere, since together with the textiles their reason for existence was recovered, documenting the contexts in which they were used, some of them forgotten. A consequence of this initiative has been participation of these weavers in the national award Sello Indigena, a prize now received on two occasions based on the practices and pieces recovered.