Doña Máxima continues to weave the regalia she and her husband need for his current year long term as mayor of Huancarani. She is weaving an aguayo in 24 vivid colors with 4 rows of figures each side to complete her attire for next year´s Carnaval. Aguayos are the ubiquitous Andean backpack, a square of cloth woven in 2 halves and stitched together. She´d planned to include a column of embedded double woven figures, but reconsidered after using the labor intensive weaving technique in her husband´s aguayo.
A visit to check on and photograph her weaving progress resulted in a confession as to why she is weaving a second and considering the weaving of a third aguayo. In Independencia last February she attended her husband’s inauguration wearing the only aguayo remaining of those she´d woven as a teen when she had time to weave for herself. A few days later her older sister Doña Narciza was visiting from Huancarani and informed Doña Máxima that word was circulating about the shameful state of the old aguayo including the observation that it didn´t have a single column of embedded double woven figures. Doña Narciza said she´d hoped to loan Doña Máxima an aguayo so she wouldn´t disgrace herself, but hadn´t been able to travel to town for the inauguration. As she beat down the weft Doña Máxima said she had thought her aguayo weaving days were over, with a sly smile she communicated, “I’ll show them.”
The competitive spirit of their long ago teen years is resurfacing among the Huancarani weavers. Although Doña Antonia wasn´t motivated to weave a new aguayo 2 years ago when her husband was mayor of Huancarani, she is working on her second one this year, and talking about weaving a third. Doña Justina is weaving a new Carnaval aguayo using natural dyed yarn instead of the “traditional” synthetically dyed yarn used for celebrations. Doña Narciza said she may start one in December.
Somehow Doña Máxima was managing to weave, chat, and laugh as she worked towards the completion of the first half of
her new aguayo. She was nearing the end of the weaving and commented that is was slow going because of the difficulty of working in the increasingly tight space. She reminisced about being at the same stage with her first aguayo when she was 15 years old hoping her mother would notice her increasing frustration and offer to help. She finally gave her loom a few hard smacks but received nothing more than a chuckle from her mother.
She pointed out colors she liked and talked of the design details she’d like to combine from the first 2 aguayos to weave the third one. She also commented on the woven figures her daughters haven´t learned because the figures are not used on the weavings for ch’upsas, which are what are being woven for the various PAZA products.
Vilma, who is Doña Máxima´s eldest, was listening and again stated she planned to weave her first aguayo. However, she had recently purchased a new factory woven one which she personalized with a lavish crocheted border. All markets feature stacks of brightly colored, inexpensive, factory woven aguayos. They filled the void due to the lifestyle change of girls studying instead of living the farmer subsistence life that incorporates weaving skills and fostered the teen competiveness to master the craft.
With an expression more eloquent than any words of thanks Doña Máxima conveyed her pride, joy, and gratitude in being able to weave a textile that has such deep meaning for her and for the older generations. It is to you dear PAZA supporters that her gratitude was directed. You have provided the means to keep the Club de Artesanas going so that she earns a wage, you have supported sales efforts of the weavings so the weavers are beginning to understand their weaving tradition is valued, and you helped purchase the yarn for her ceremonial weavings. No amount of gossip would have persuaded her to prioritize weaving over basic family needs. Thank you. Dorinda Dutcher, September 20, 2015
Spinzilla fundraising update: We´ve raised $200 of the estimated $800 needed for expenses for the event. Thank you! September 22, 2015