Threads of Peru works with weaving cooperatives in four regions of Cusco, namely the Sacred Valley, the Patacancha Valley, the Mapacho River Valley, and Ausangate. Each group has unique strengths in terms of skills and products, and also offer different pallays (designs in Quechua), according to how their weaving tradition evolved.
Read more about each cooperative below.
Puca Turpay Association
About 45 minutes driving from the Inca fortress of Ollantaytambo, the village of Rumira Sondormayo is located across the river from its better-known and larger neighbor, Patacancha. At an altitude of 4,000 meters (13,000 feet), Rumira is the home of the Puca Turpay weaving cooperative, composed of 20 Quechua women.
Rumira is accessible by road, has electricity and running water in most houses, access to both primary and secondary schools, and the medical post in Patacancha. Despite significantly better access to public services and traffic tourism, the small, adobe brick buildings, gentle stream, and lush groves of eucalyptus trees have kept the picturesque Andean landscape intact. Approximately 40 families reside in Rumira Sondormayo, agriculture and herding being their main economic activities. Many men of the community also work as porters on the Classic Inca Trail trek to Machu Picchu and the women of Puca Turpay are now contributing to the financial support of their households through the sale of their fine weavings.
Puca Turpay Members
Beatriz Laucata Sinchi, Fani Quispe Cjuro, Hermenegilda Quispe Cruz, Juana Quispe Machaca, Joaquina Huaman, Juliana Huaman Quispe, Justina Quispe Tacu, Luisa Echame Melo, Maria Mamani Quispe, Maria Melo Quispe, Matiaza Quispe Medina, Mercedes Quispe Medina, Paulita Sicos Huaman, Saturnina Puma Mamani, Simeona Huaman Diaz, Toribia Echame Huaman, Victoria Laucata Huaman, Virginia Medina Mamani, Cirila Días Huamán, Teresa Quispe Poco
Ticllay Huarmi Association
The Ticllay Huarmi weaving cooperative is formed by 26 Quechua women, residing in the high Andean community of Chaullacocha. Located at a freezing altitude of over 4,500 meters (15,000 feet) above the Patacancha Valley, Chaullacocha is reached after crossing a 4,800 meter mountain pass.
The first view of the community is a moon-like, windswept valley dotted with a few mud-brick houses. It is a harsh environment where temperatures fall below zero in the afternoons, and little food grows – largely only potatoes, sheep, and llamas. Even today, people here live a subsistence lifestyle, with little attention from the outside world. Whereas the majority of the cooperative members did not have the opportunity to study - the school closed in the 1990’s due to terrorism, only reopening in 2006 and being officially recognized in 2008 - all school-aged children are currently enrolled in school. Because of their remoteness, the relationship between Threads of Peru and Ticllay Huarmi that began in 2009 is the only sustainable source of income that the women have for their textiles.
Ticllay Huarmi Members
Alejandrina Puclla Pumaccahua, Alejandrina Puma Churata, Alejandrina Riveros Hancco, Andrea Condori Pumacahua, Barbara Yupanqi Sinchi, Demesia Sinchi Echami, Dorotea Sullkapuma Puma, Elsa Rios Sullcapuma, Eugenia Huaman Quispe, Francisca Cjuro Yupanqui, Francisca Huaman Rios, Francisca Sullkapuma Puma, Gregoria Puclla Sullkapuma, Isabel Mamani Hancco, Juana Huamanhuillca Cjuro, Juana Rios Churata, Juliana Huaman Quispe, Leandra Quispe Yupanqui, Lucia Castillo Yupanqi, Maria Huamanhuillca Melo, Martina Sullcapuma Sullca, Martina Puma Ccama, Santusa Cjuro Castillo, Santusa Puma Ccama, Santusa Quispe Puma, Vilma Huaman Castillo
Awaq Mayki Association
The Awaq Mayki (meaning handwoven in Quechua) weaving cooperative, boasting over 20 talented and motivated members, partnered with Threads of Peru beginning in 2012 as an almost self-organized entity with over a decade registered as a formal association. The majority reside in the community of Upis, situated quite literally at the foot of the great Ausangate mountain, the highest in Southern Peru, and an important Apu (mountain god) in Quechua culture.
At an astonishing 4,400 meters (14,435 feet) and with looming, frequently snow-capped mountain peaks in the distance, Upis is well-known for breathtaking trekking routes, impeccable artisanship, and free-ranging alpaca herds. Despite extreme climactic conditions, very basic living conditions, and limited economic opportunities, the members of Awaq Mayki have become invaluable members of the Threads of Peru team thanks to their characteristic commitment to punctuality, quality, and clear communication.
Awaq Mayki Members
Ruperta Condori Merma, Inocencia Crispin Gonzalo, Francisca Ccahuana Condore, Beatriz Chillihuani Choque, Sabina Luna Choque, Victoria Condore Condori, Juana Condore Chillihuani, Maria Carmin Espetia Yucra, Santusa Crispine Gonzalo, Marta Ccahuana Condori, Eulalia Crispin Cochicari de Mandora, Esabel Human Ppacse, Rejina Chillihuani Luna, Herminia Huaman, Felipa Condori Chillihuani, Juliana Condori Yucra, Margarita Quispe, Paulina Chillihuani Hanco, Sabina Condori de Chillihuani, Marcela Yucra Condori, Bacilia Luna, Eusibia Gonzalo Mayo, Paulina Gonzalo Chillihuani, Delfina Condori Merma
Munay Urpi Association
Tucked away in the lush foothills of the Sacred Valley of Cusco, widely known as the historic playground of the Incan royals, the Munay Urpi (meaning beautiful dove in Quechua) cooperative of Huaran is reached by a single road stretching between the townships of Urubamba and Calca. Surrounded by rich farmland, Huaran is actually composed of 5 smaller villages – Cancha Cancha, Ch’uro, Sillacancha, Taqllapata, and Arin - with members coming from as far as 1.5 hours away to participate in the cooperative. In addition to increased involvement in the textile market, local families largely keep animals such as cows and sheep for their own food supplies and their abundant crops of white corn, lettuce, strawberries, and roses fill farmers' market stalls year round.
From the time of Spanish colonization until the 1960s, the land of this region actually comprised an expansive, traditional hacienda (farming estate) and only recently have community members begun to participate in the general assemblies for shared public services such as potable water, health, and education. Because of the gentle climate, located at just 2,840 metres (9,317 feet) and the inspiring weaving skill of all Munay Urpi cooperative members, Threads of Peru visits to Huaran are particularly enjoyable!
Munay Urpi Members
Andrés Sallo Huaman, Bacilia Condori Quispe, Bonifacia Condori Quispe, Concepcion Hanccu Siccus, Eufemia Landa Huallpa, Feliciana Aviles Hacco, Felicitas Aranzabal condori, Francisca Alagon Puma, Herminia Sallo Huaman, Juana Nina Pfoccohuanca, Juana Paola Siccus, Nelly Hanccu Siccus, Rosa Hanccu Siccus, Sabina Ccana Tacuri, Gregoria Mamani
Pallay Awaq Association
In reference to the Pallay Awaq weaving cooperative, the phrase “all in the family” rings too true! The smallest group of the Threads of Peru team, the majority of the Pallay Awaq members are brothers, sisters, and spouses, having worked together as a formally registered association since 2006. Though a few now live in the nearby, quaint town of Calca in the Sacred Valley of Cusco in order for their children to attend high school, many reside in the high Andean community of Totora, located about 40 minutes away by vehicle.
With the difficulty of finding sustainable sales outlets for their textiles, families in Totora primarily work in agriculture and herding, the community boasting abundant alpaca herds. After joining Threads of Peru in 2012, however, the unparalleled skill of the Pallay Awaq members - their spinning is as fine as machine spun yarn and their mastery of weaving with baby alpaca fiber is truly awe-inspiring - is achieving the financial recompense needed to provide a more comfortable living for them and their and growing families.
Pallay Awaq Members
Angela Milo Huallpa, Ciprian Mamani Huallpa, Leonarda Mamani Huallpa, Luisa Flores Alagon, Mario Flores Alagon, Mercedes Cruz Quispe, Sabina Mamani Huallpa, Santusa Mamani Huallpa, Santos Flores Alagon