Chinchero in Peru’s Sacred Valley

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We met a Quechua father named Edzon, and his daughter in Cusco one sunny afternoon. We learned Edzon comes from an artisan family of weavers who live the small community of Chinchero. Edzon, with his wife and daughter run a small booth in the artisan market in central Cusco selling his family’s work.

I asked Edzon if he and his family would be willing to host us for an afternoon of cultural exchange and learning. Four days later, we were invited to visit his family’s farm.

And this is the story of the magical day we spent together.

“We all have our own life to pursue, Our own kind of dream to be weaving… And we all have the power To make wishes come true, As long as we keep believing.”

~Louisa May Alcott

Chinchero, is a community of about 20,000 Quechua speakers, located in the Sacred Valley in Peruvian Andes. Chinchero is known throughout the valley for it’s tradition of weaving as a large portion of the cloths, belts, hats and other handmade woven products found in the markets around Cusco, are from the Chinchero community.

Residents of Chinchero are known for their strong sense of cultural identity expressed through their traditional dress and unique weaving patterns.

 

We drove into Chinchero past the city portion into the farming community. We were struck by the quiet quaintness of the surrounding farms and beauty of in the surrounding landscape. Traditionally, woman are the artisans in the community, but most men learned how to weave as a child, sitting and helping their moms.

We were greeted by Edzon’s mom, his two sisters and sister-in-law, all with large smiles on their faces, we felt immediately welcome . We sat with the family, Edzon offered coca leaves for pachamama, (mother earth). Together, we chewed coca leaves, shared smiles and many laughs.

Their farm was tucked among a row of farms, with it’s perfectly tilled field, growing a generous crop of potatoes. The family presented a basket of freshly cooked potatoes to us and to sample the farms yield.

We noticed the animals surrounding the farm, pigs, donkeys and cows, But no animal was more important to this family, as were the sheep, bearing wool. Edzon’s mom smiles as she showed us how to spin the raw wool into thread. At least once a week, the family dyes the spun wool using tints from plant surrounding the farm.

And we watched Edzon’s mother’s hands, as they seemed to contain the memories of generations in her fingers. And others created the thread that wove this family together.

With fresh eyes, we looked at their creations. We marveled over the intricacies woven in the designs and appreciated the materials with an entirely new perspective. And then, before you knew it, it was our turn. Edzon and the women of his family shared with us their ancient art, with patience and kindness. I required a bit more instruction, and Miro was a natural.

We had the most amazing day, learned a lot about family, working together, co- creating and sustainability. We are so grateful for the gift of knowing this family and sharing a truly magical day.