Weaving the Past, Present & Future

Linda Ligon and I have been traipsing about Cusco, Peru the last several days, participating in Tinkuy 2017 Gathering of the Textile Arts. Sponsored by the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco and Andean Textile Arts, Tinkuy celebrates weaving traditions from around the world. Spinners, dyers, weavers, and artisans from Laos to Afghanistan and places in between, including artisan groups from across Peru, have come to teach and learn and tell their stories. Hundreds of participants from several countries have gathered to learn from these artisans through demonstrations, and workshops. And add to that, keynote lectures from powerhouses like Wade Davis, Ann Pollard Rowe, and Rowland Ricketts.

Past Present Future
Linda Ligon at the head of the Tinkuy parade through the streets of Peru with fellow ATA members Jan Gibson (left) and Betty Doer (right).

Past & Present

The theme of this year’s program is Weaving the Past, Present & Future. This theme had added meaning Thursday night as we gathered in the Museum and Catacombs of San Francisco de Asis  to celebrate the publication of Secrets of Spinning, Weaving, and Knitting in the Peruvian Highlands. This new Thrums book by Nilda Callanaupa Alvarez and the weavers of the CTTC features Andean cultural heritage as well as textile techniques, highlighting the work of the young weavers as they carry their ancient traditions into the future. Also, Nilda presented the brand new Spanish translation of Faces of Tradition: Weaving Elders of the Andes, the award-winning book we first published in 2013. In honor and recognition, she named individually each of the elders featured in the book who had passed away since its first publication.

past Present Future
Those featured in Faces of Tradition, or their family members, receiving a copy of the Spanish translation, Rostros de Tradicion.

Also at the Museo de San Francisco we kicked off the inauguration of the exhibition, “Ancestral Textile Replicas: Recreating the Past, Weaving the Present.” Weavers of the CTTC have woven replicas of ancient textiles for this exhibition to represent textiles of the past and to learn and maintain the techniques that created those long-ago magnificent textiles.

past present future
Reproduction of the poncho of San Martin, a decisive figure in the independence of Peru.


We have one more glorious day here at Tinkuy. During much of it, Linda and friends will be working with the young weavers of the CTTC to create their own book–their photographs, their words, the world through their eyes. I can’t wait to see what they create. I will also be a bit sad to see Tinkuy end. Many experiences this week have illustrated the beauty we create when we weave together our past, present, and future. There have been other experiences–watching a weaver from Mexico transfixed by the cotton spinning of a Lao weaver, enjoying the peaceful ease with which Guatemalan artisans taught gauze weaving to a roomful of Peruvians, watching the young son of an indigo dyer from Indiana practice his newly learned Andean spinning skills. To take in these scenes is to appreciate a different kind of beauty, one of honor and respect for each other’s skills, traditions, and cultures. Let that be our future.

Past Present Future
Amalia and Carmen from Guatemala teach gauze weaving to weavers from several different Peruvian highland communities.



Thrums Books–weaving the world together.

Secrets of SpinningFamilly

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