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Highland Indians from Peru

Highland Indians from Peru

Our wool alpaca scarves from Peru are real pieces of art. The scarves are handmade by highland Indians from the Andes in Peru. Both women and men are experienced weavers.

Millions of Indians in the Peruvian Andes still live a traditional lifestyle and speak the old Quechua language.

The Indians all have their own distinctive weaving patterns. Every pattern relays specific information, such as the family the weavers belong to and the areas they are from.

Producing these unique patterns, that speak many words, is very labour-intensive. Weaving a scarf easily takes up more than a week’s work.

The scarves are woven on so-called ‘back strap’ weaving looms, which are made by the Indians themselves. These small looms are strapped on the back of the weaver.

In the mountain villages, Indians weave beautiful cloths. Men use these cloths as ponchos, women wear their baby’s in them. They also use them for carrying food.

The Indian families use alpaca wool from their own herds of alpaca’s. Once every two years they shear an alpaca. They only shear when the hair is long enough to be spun into good yarn.

The Indians dye the alpaca wool with natural dye from plants, trees and flowers. Crimson red, a natural dye, is being used for all shades of red. The families make crimson red from dried scale insects that can be found on scale cacti in the Andes.

Some families create their shawls, scarves and cloths from alpaca wool that is not dyed. The alpaca comes in many different colours: brown, white, black and grey. If the wool is sorted and selected carefully, there is enough natural colour variation to weave undyed scarves in colourful patterns.

Counting Flowers sells scarves in bright colours from herdsman Leandro Huamán. Leandro and his family come from Sasicancha, a small community in the highlands near the village Lamay in the Holy Valley.

Leandro lives with his mother in Lamay most of the year, together with his eldest children – two sons and a daughter. The children go to school in Lamay. During the tourist season Leandro works as a carrier on the Inca trail. His wife lives with their youngest son in Sasicancha; she takes care of their alpaca herd.

The family Puma Cruz makes all scarves from undyed alpaca wool. The nieces Hilaria, Faustina and Florentina live in Huacahuasi, a small village at an altitude of over 12.303 feet.

Their village can be reached only by an unpaved road from Calca in the Holy Valley.

The weaving collection from Huacahuasi has a very distinct and recognisable  variety of motives and patterns inspired by the village’s daily life, landscape, flora, fauna and culture.

Hilaria, Faustina and Florentina each have their speciality. They weave their complex motives by heart. They have a small shop at home, where they sell their handwoven scarves and cloths.

The scarves Counting Flowers buys from a weaving group in Lares are also made from undyed alpaca wool. The members of this group have organised themselves in a cooperative, they share the rent for a shop they run in the Holy Valley, to spread risks and increase their incomes from sales. The weavers of the cooperative live in the highlands. Some have their own alpaca herd.

Besides the alpaca woollen scarves from the Huamán and Puma Cruz families, and the weaving group in Lares, we also sell some scarves we buy directly at the market in Pisaq – one of the most important markets in the Holy Valley.

Take a look at the alpaca woollen scarves from the highland Indians.

Leandro and one of his alpaca’s [credits: Lisette Verkerk]
Leandro with one of his alpaca's
Leandro’s wife at work
Leandro's wife prepares her loom with alpaca yarn

Hilaria Puma Cruz
Hilaria is weaving an alpaca scarf

Faustina Puma Cruz
Faustina Puma Cruz

Florentina Puma Cruz
Florentina is preparing her loom

The alpacas of the Puma Cruz family
Alpacas from the Puma Cruz family

Women at the market in Pisaq
Artisan shows alpaca wool scarf in Pisaq market

Artisan shows her alpaca wool scarves at Pisaq market

Artisans show their handwoven alpaca wool scarves

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