ArtAndes Blog

Carrying on the craft of weaving and cultural preservation

Posted November 25, 2012 @ 2:57pm | by Melanie

Wilber Quispe, ArtAndes long time esteemed weaver, has had to make some difficult changes to help assure the continuance of the craft. Back in 2000, Wilber saved his money, after his first 4 years of rug orders with ArtAndes, and built his workshop back in his home area of Ayacucho. This is the weaving central of South America and in the middle of wool production, spinning and natural dye resources. It made sense to leave his Lima shanty town ( it's improved now) and go back to the weaving center. His wife Pascuala, was excited to move as well, all her family is there. What they didn't anticipate was that the 4 kids would refuse. They were born on the coast and thought themselves as urbanites and didn't want to adjust to the 'backwards' ways of the highland people. Of course the parents get to decide, but the over riding factor was the quality of education. The #2 son Jamie was accepted to San Marcos, the most prestigious university in Peru. Of the thousands that vie for this position, few get accepted. So for about a year, Wilber ended up living in Ayacucho and maintaining his family in Lima, until it proved to be too difficult to be away and too expensive to maintain two residences. 

Flash forward 10 years to 2012. The kids are older, still at home but moving forward with their lives. There are no young guys showing up at Wilber's Lima residence in desperate need of work and a desire to learn to weave. There are very few young people weaving period. After Wilber's Minnesota visit last summer, he decided in order to keep the craft going he had to go back to Ayacucho. I'm there now as I write this. It's been hard, but he is determined. He doesn't have the extra hands and company of the family. Wilber has rounded up his old team of 4, most of which are in their 40's and haven't been weaving for awhile but are happy to pick it up again. They are incredibly skilled and need the work.

The work, there's lot's of it out there. Peru is having a mining & construction boom, but there are still wide swaths of extreme poverty in Ayacucho. Even though there are a lot of jobs, they are hard and often far away.

Progress brings modernization, along with this, craft often falls by the wayside.. We can compete with the pay but not the allure. Once a weaver leaves Ayacucho, they leave the craft behind.

Wilber is doing his part for cultural preservation!


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