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Tiwanaku Remembered

You may or may not have heard of Tiwanaku (or Tiahuanaco/Tiwanacu). It is a major pre-Columbian civilization located in Bolivia known for its ruins and now listed by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) as a World Heritage Site. It was built almost 13,000 feet above sea level, making it one of the highest urban centers ever constructed. The people were skilled engineers and masons, producing impressive stone buildings and monuments. A civilization way ahead of its time! However, as time went by, it collapsed and the city was abandoned, but their monumental stone art and architecture survived and continue to impress the modern-day visitor with their timeless appeal. 

Why the mini history lesson? Well, in the early years of 1990s, we befriended a ceramist and his family. From where? You guessed it! From the town of Tiwanaku, Bolivia. This family made amuletos, or good luck charms, by collecting clay from the nearby hills, pressing it into their own handmade molds, then firing them in their backyard oven, fueled by their sheep herd’s poop! Their amuletos consisted of ekkekos (the traditional god of luck and prosperity), idolos guarding the village church, a replica of a nose from a found pitcher, an exact copy of quartz chacapuma, Chavin de Huantar depictions, and many more items inspired by the Tiwanaku ruins! They were beautiful and the detail was incredible. So, we did the only thing that seemed right: we made a small business with this family and their beautiful, handcrafted amuletos!

It wasn’t easy. It was actually quite complicated. There was just one phone in the village phone center that we used to contact the family to place our order. Calling long distance, the operator at the phone center would answer and say, “Los gringos llaman para los Choques?” (“The gringos are calling for the Choques?”) Then we’d hand up, he’d run down the street to get the young son, because he could write, and we’d call back and place our order!

That was almost 30 years ago! We lost touch with this family. But things have a funny way of working out. While Toby was out in the Cultural Museum in Bolivia, he was recognized by a young man. That young man was no other than the boy who would write down our orders. He was all grown up!  He recognized Toby at the Cultural Museum and reintroduced himself!!! While catching up, he said with the money they made from selling to us, he and his siblings were able to get an education and jobs. Two have become teachers and one is a soldier and museum guard. So important to know we are making a difference and not causing too much trouble!!

Amuletos, Guatemalan Amuletos
Toby & “the boy”

Mantas de Cholita

Turning the corner with macrame. Nearly one hundred years ago Bolivian Cholitas took on this handwork. Like their knitting compatriots, rounding or squaring the corner is well, well done. These pieces are done 30-40 years ago we reckon. Store bought machine embroidered fabric adorned in hand knotted macrame. Women’s work while tending their stores or spots in the market or while tending to their children.

 

 

Sucre Market and Wedding

 

What were we doing 30 years ago? While quarantining we found photos of a harrowing trip to a village known for amazing weavings. Hitched a ride on soda and beer delivery truck, sitting atop bottles of Fantas. Upon arriving and getting situated in a classroom at the local school for sleeping accommodation for 4 days, an invitation to partake in wedding celebration came our way. We couldn’t turn it down. Started drinking chicha, eating potatoes and goat and a guinea pig. Slept on kids desks together in a classroom with no electricity.
Just followed the teacher who got us the room to sleep. We spoke very little Spanish and most the people of the village spoke Quechua. Wonderful hospitality without any ties. Our intention was to visit several villages to buy textiles but after the encounter we couldn’t put business into such an experience.

The Arroyo Three Piece

Arroyo Three Piece Set

The sun rising above the altiplano, embroidered directly on these new hand knit gloves, hat and scarf. This has us looking forward to hiking in the Sierra again. The embroidered circles are reminiscent of the arroyos seen while hiking just outside of Cajamarca, Peru. What are arroyos exactly? Glad that you should ask!  

An arroyo, also called a wash, is a dry creek, stream bed or gulch that temporarily or seasonally fills and flows after sufficient rain. With water brings new life! The arroyo is the inspiration behind these hand crocheted bright happy colored, warm, soft alpaca accessories. Click here to check out the hat our model Sydney is wearing!

That Victorian Velvet Look

Squiggle Cuffs Burgundy-Red Ribbed Velvet

Remember Downton Abbey? I couldn’t get enough of their beautiful clothing. Can’t believe it was all hand made. The fabrics and colors and textures inspired us to create our velvet fingerless cuffs. Our fabrics are laced with elastic to create the crinkled look or the ribbed look. Each trimmed in our signature bubble trim then wrapped in a pink bow, perfect for gift giving. Collars and velvet hats to match.

 

Madame Crawly. Love the collar!

Crinkle Cuffs in Ecru, Sumi Charcoal, and Coral

 

Elyssa wearing the Crinkle Cuffs in Coral. Note the thumb hole . . . 

 

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