Monday, November 15, 2010

Maiwa in Peru - Presenting a Tinkuy Workshop


On November 8th we gave our second workshop. Nilda had requested that we present our experiences working with craftspeople in India. We expanded that mandate a bit to include other work with groups in Turkey, Morocco, and Ethiopia. At the Chinchero Centre we showed images of workshops, dyepots, dyes, yarns, and artisans to a group of 20 weavers from 9 communities.

Presenting images of an Ethiopian market.
The audience were most interested to learn that all artisans face similar challenges. We took a series of enthusiastic questions from the group as the talk progressed. They were most interested in costing, quality control, and what was happening in other craft markets. One particularly shocking fact that they realized could happen in their own market, was the copying of their traditional items from outside (overseas) factories.

They also wanted to know if the artisans we worked with wore traditional dress. Over the past 12 years the Peruvian artisans found that with the increase in their reputation from exquisite weavings, they had a renewed sense of pride in traditional dress. They wanted to be known, not only as artisans, but as THE artisans from their community. Did others feel the same? It has been our experience that this is true. The work brings a welcome respect.

Our talk was translated into Quechua by Jennifer  CallaƱaupa.
The Peruvian group expressed their concern for the emigration of young people out of the villages and into the urban centres. With this group went the hope for the future and the continuity of traditions. What had other artisans done about this? In Chinchero creative solutions had be found through weaving competitions, the construction of a weaving centre where groups could work together and through the many events and activities that give a community a strong sense of self.

As with any presentation we give to a rural group, they were very curious about the animals found in other parts of the world. They were impressed with wild silk moths, but equally curious about the large herds of camels (which they recognize as relatives of llamas, alpacas, vicuƱas, and guanacos).

A participant reviews Maiwa postcards - one of our promotional tools for marketing craft.
The group left the presentation with a good feeling of being well connected to other artisans. Each group that forms through a revival is motivated by visionary individuals who understand that a return to tradition is a powerful vehicle to carry their cultural integrity. Without it, they will merge with the modern world and their patterns, stitches, colours, and expressions will be held in museums - if they are held at all.

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