Unique artisans of the Taquile Island

Few have heard of this very small island in the high altitude of the Andes in Lake Titicaca.  But in November of 2005 - The Director-General of UNESCO, Kochiro Matsuura  proclaimed Taquile island of Peru and its textile art as one of the 43 new Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritages of Humanity along with Japan's Kabuki theater and the Zambian Makishi Masquarade.

    Why did the Taquile people receive this honor? Taquileos are known for their fine handwoven textiles and clothing which are regarded as some of  the finest quality handy crafts in Peru. Their textile art is produced as an everyday activity by both men, women and children and worn by all members of the community .

The art of weaving  on Taquile island goes back to the ancient Inca civilizations which means elements from pre-Hispanic Andean cultures are still being kept alive. The weaving is done on pre-Hispanic fixed and pedal looms. The most characteristic garment is the calendar waistband, depicting the annual cycles connected to ritual and agricultural activities. The calendar waistband has attracted the interest of many researchers as it depicts elements of the oral tradition of the community and its history. Although new designs and contemporary symbols and images have been introduced, the traditional style and techniques are still maintained.

My husband and I had the opportunity to visit this Island last year and were amazed at how small it was and how the people differed from other Andean groups.  The women and girls wore black mantas or long head scarves which we had not scene in other parts of Peru. The typical llama was not present on the island but instead lot's of woolly sheep.  What seemed like an easy climb up the hill to the village was actually quite challenging because of the high altitude. We enjoyed our afternoon there and ate a meal of delicious local trout. We look forward to going back one day and were glad to have met such warm and interesting people .       ~  above are a  few photographs from our trip to the Taquile Island in Lake Titicaca, Peru.

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