The OCONGATE and PITUKISKA hats have a long history in the Andes, and provide a direct link from past to present. The Andean chullo is an often elaborately decorated, usually colourful winter hat knitted using five very fine needles. Knitting was introduced in Peru during Colonial times, but it has reached an unparalleled degree of artistry in the Andes, becoming the subject of many academic writings. While weaving is largely done by women, in many communities it is often the men who knit.
The OCONGATE and PITUKISKA hats come from Pitukiska, a community in the Mapacho Valley region and one of the most isolated we work with. It was entirely cut off from the rest of the region until the road was completed in 2014. Now, a fruit truck has regular access to the community bringing much needed supplies, but when we first began going, it was a minimum 3 hour hike from one the neighbouring villages – that’s after the 4 hour drive from Cusco!
The designs and colours of the OCONGATE and PITUKISKA hats – which are knitted using alpaca fibre from the community’s own herds – are evocative of the traditional weavings of the area. Traditional chullo styles vary enormously from region to region, and community to community. In Rumira Sondormayo – another community in Threads of Peru’s network – the chullos are more of a tightly knit cap that ends in a long beaded strap that is sewn together just under the chin [photo]. In the Ocongate region – where the weavers in the Awaq Mayki association live – the chullos are known for their elaborate beadwork and bright wool pompoms.
Traditionally, chullos were worn by men and children, often underneath another type of hat. The OCONGATE and PITUKISKA hats, however, are designed for everyone! Men and women alike can enjoy these winter hats, and feel a connection to the powerful energy and vibrant culture of the Andes.