Peruvian Backstrap Weaving

by - Monday, May 11, 2009

2009 Maiwa Textile Symposium

Instructor Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez

“The process of weaving is a reflection of the weaver’s daily life. Each of her weavings contains her own history, from the saddest to the happiest moments.”
– Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez

Traditional Andean weaving is done on a backstrap loom, known in Quechua as an awana. The design of this loom has not changed since pre-Incan times. It is semi-vertical and is used to weave warp-faced cloth. It is a simple set-up, easy to begin working with, yet with considerable potential to challenge the weaver.

Outsiders who encounter the textiles of the Peruvian highlands can’t help but wonder how weavers learn the intricate hand skills necessary to do this work or how they hold the complex patterns in their minds. This workshop will reveal these wonders in an intimate class setting. Nilda Callañaupa has mastered the Andean weaving techniques and is the founder of the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco in Peru.

Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez

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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