The Q’ente Textile Revitalization Society collaborates with nine different artisan associations, in nine different rural Quechua communities:
Amaru – Asociación de Tejedores Tradicionales Laraypas Indígenas de Amaru
The community of Amaru is located approximately 30 km north of Pisac – the town famous for its Sunday artisan market, and Amaru’s closest neighbour and urban centre. Amaru is a sustainable farming community whose motto is to reciprocate back to Mother Earth who gave them life. They have a medicinal garden, bee-houses to produce organic honey, greenhouses to cultivate artichokes, tomatoes and other nutritional foods that cannot otherwise be grown in the high altitude, and propagation gardens to grow new plants to replace each one that they use for dyeing their wool.
Bombón – Tika Pallay
One of three communities Q’ente works with in the remote Mapacho Valley, Bombón is a jewel of a village, located on a mountain precipice, overlooking the magnificent vista of surrounding mountains and the valley below. The name of their association means “Flower Design”, which highlights the importance of nature as represented in traditional textiles.
Calca – Calca Warmi
Calca is one of the larger towns along the Sacred Valley route, between Pisac and Urubamba. This group of urban mothers get together on a weekly basis to learn new crafts and practise their existing skills. The ability to make crafts is offering these women the opportunity to gain a measure of financial independence and support their children, and the weekly meetings offer them emotional support and a sense of belonging. Q’ente currently purchases hand-knit mittens and wrist-warmers from these women, although they are interested in developing their skills in weaving and natural dyeing as well, which Q’ente hopes to facilitate in the future.
Cancha Cancha – Illariy Chaska
The name of this community refers to the stone corrals which characterise the town landscape. It is located on the Lares Valley route, about a 4 hour walk up the mountain from the Sacred Valley, above the town of Huaran. There are no vehicle-accessible roads to the community, so children and adults must walk to and from their homes every day in order to attend school and jobs in the valley. Cancha Cancha is famous for its stunning glacier-fed lake. The name of their association means “Star of the Dawn”.
Huaran – Munay Urpi
Huaran is a rural village located along the main Sacred Valley route, just past Calca. It is one of a group of five communities that form the larger municipality of Huaran. The women and men of Munay Urpi (“Beautiful Dove”) also meet regularly to weave together, encouraging each other and developing their skills. They have participated in weaving and natural dyeing competitions where members tested their speed and competency in dyeing, weaving, designing, and colour selection. Many of these women live more “modern” lifestyles, but they continue to weave as a way to reconnect with their heritage and keep the tradition alive.
Pachar – Asociación de Artesanas Productoras Huillcamayo de Pachar
Pachar is a rural community near Ollantaytambo. This area is known for their doll-making, and these are the products this group of young women and mothers are involved in making. They distinguish themselves from their competitors by partnering with another of Q’ente’s communities in order to source hand-woven textiles from which to sew their dolls. These women often work collaboratively so that each doll is the work of all members together. As in Calca, making crafts allows these women some financial independence, further empowering them to take control of their destinies.
Parobamba – Asociacíon de Tejedoras María Auxiliadora
Another of the Mapacho Valley communities, in order to reach Parobamba one must first travel by communal truck or bus from Calca three hours to a town called Amparaes. From here, it is about a 4 or 5 hour walk to Parobamba. Twice a week there is a truck that goes all the way to Parobamba. The distinctive feature about this area is that it is located on the very edge of the Cusco department, bordering the Manu National Park, a biosphere reserve on the edge of the Peruvian rainforest. It is perhaps for this reason that textiles from this valley are characterised by bright, tropical colours, including shades of turquoise, bright greens, and pinks.
Pitukiska – Mayu Chaska
The last of the communities Q’ente works with from the Mapacho Valley area, Pitukiska is the most isolated, accessible only by foot from either Bombón, Parobamba, or Amparaes. Houses are spread out over a large area of agricultural land among several mountain peaks. The association’s name “River Star” was chosen in part because of the river which flows through the community, and the abundance of stars visible at night in the absence of light pollution.
Q’enqo – Pallay Loraypo
Q’enqo, which means “zigzag” in Quechua, is located about an hour and half from Cusco by car. It is not on a major route, however, and so transportation must be arranged in advance. It is also accessible by foot, from either Ccorao or Lamay. The route from Lamay passes the often-overlooked historical ruins of Huchuy Qosqo, or “Little Cusco”, as well as offers stunning views of the Sacred Valley below.