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Timoteo Ccarita Sacaca and Benita Ccana Rojo

Ancient cosmology in tapestry form

Intricately detailed and often ecstatically colorful, the textiles produced by Cusco, a team of Peru-based artisans, led by married partners Timoteo Ccarita Sacaca and Benita Ccana Rojo, are remarkable for their creativity and beauty. For centuries, this region’s distinctive garments identified their wearers by gender, marital status, and their community roles. Ponchos, for instance, perhaps the most recognizable Andean garment, were historically worn by men during ceremonies, while elegantly stitched chuspas, or bags, were designed to carry coca leaves and other goods. Today, these and many other gloriously colorful, energetically designed textiles can be enjoyed the world over for both everyday use and special occasions.

The couples and their team use wool gathered from sheep and vicuñas (the once-wild ancestors of domesticated alpacas) raised by local farmers. Dyes, too, come from locally sourced plants, minerals, and insects. First, wool is spun into yarn with a spindle, which is suspended in the air and twirled until the yarn is strong enough to tolerate the strains of weaving. The yarn is then dyed or left in natural shades of white, gray, brown, and black. Weaving requires great skill and foresight, with vertical and horizontal strands of yarn precisely arranged in intricate motifs.

Many of the patterns used by Timoteo and his team are interpretations of ancient Andean cosmologies derived from observations of the stars, sacred rituals, the energies of mountains, volcanoes, the wind, and more. Beauty and mystery are ethnographically embodied in each of these ancestrally-inspired, heirloom-quality textiles.