An Inca Village Today: The Children's Weaving Club

Thursday, March 17, 6:30 to 8:00 PM, Lawrence Memorial Library, Bristol

Join Libby and David Van Buskirk to learn about their work in the high Andes mountains of Peru andBolivia, where Inca families still practice their most cherished pre-Columbian traditions. Weaving has, for centuries, been central to this process. Libby, a writer and textile specialist, will tell stories about village families and children and how they weave, while David, child psychiatrist and photographer, shows slides from the extensive photo documentation project he conducted during their many trips to Peru.

In the l990s Peruvian master weaver Nilda Callañaupa perceived that children in her home village of Chinchero were no longer learning their repertoire of patterns. Andean weaving traditions were in danger of extinction in one generation. Something had to be done. Nilda, with the Van Buskirks, founded The Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco. At the time Nilda was in the United States to give lectures and workshops at UVM, Harvard and other schools. In Vermont the plan was hatched and the Center was first established as a special project of Cultural Survival in Cambridge, Mass.

Since then, the Center has greatly expanded, working with ten Andean communities, with its own Center building in the heart of Cusco and supported by grants, donations, and sales of the finest textiles that are again being made.

Weavers still gather to spin and create their extraordinary textiles. The children join in with great interest. By five or six, children are able to spin fine yarn. At the same age they weave narrow bands called “jakimas” to learn each of their village patterns. Thus they can eventually make larger works by joining patterns, altering patterns, burying hints of patterns, and using patterns in outstanding color combinations. Inca patterns carry layers of meaning and ideas that have been transferred, without the use of written notations, from generation to generation.

To learn more about The Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco, visit their website at