Pattern Dreams: Weaving in the Peruvian Highlands

by - Wednesday, April 08, 2009

2009 Maiwa Textile Symposium Lecture by

Monday October 19, 2009 at 7pm
Vancouver Museum (MacMillan Space Centre Auditorium)

“Simply put, Nilda is one of the most remarkable individuals I have known. She is a woman who transcends culture, who exists out of time and space, an artist and scholar of immense vision and achievement.” – Wade Davis

Textiles of Peru reflect the Inca heritage and represent the geography and history of their mountain birthplace. Every village has its own weaving patterns and traditions. Thousands of techniques, layouts, styles, and practices that on a tradition of over 2000 years. Yet all over the Andes textiles traditions are disappearing. At an early age Nilda Callañaupa noticed that only a few individuals of her generation were learning the traditional methods of weaving.

Concerned that this rich legacy would be lost to modernity, Nilda mastered Andean-style weaving with a backstrap loom, then began teaching the method to others. Now the director of the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco whose mission is to preserve and promote the indigenous Andean weaving traditions, Nilda has organized collectives in nine towns to support weavers and help market their works at a fair price. In this fascinating introduction to the world of Andean traditions, Nilda will explain how the distinct textiles of Peru are made and how they remain vehicles for both cultural identity and independence.

Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez is an expert weaver who has travelled extensively to teach and give presentations at Harvard, Cornell, the University of Vermont, Brown, the Textile Museum in Washington, DC, and other institutions. Her expertise is recognized by international scholars of Inca textiles and culture. Nilda joins us from Peru.

Nilda is the founder and director of the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco. She has established weaving associations throughout the Andean highlands to preserve a splendid tradition of fine handmade textiles and to promote economic development. She has appeared in documentaries as a spokesperson for her culture. Nilda’s weavings have been exhibited in Peru, the US, and elsewhere. Nilda lives in Cusco, Peru, with her husband and two children. Visit the centre at


Weaving in the Peruvian Highlands: Dreaming Patterns, Weaving Memories

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  1. Hi ! I was lucky enough to attend a weaving demonstration with Nilda Callanaupa and local weavers at Casa Orihuela with the National Geographic group on 21 February 2017 and am delighted in the purchases I made. Much appreciated. Regards Jenny Daly


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