Originally published May 9, 2011
Culture in the Peruvian Andes has many colorful and striking aspects, but most so of all has to be the textiles. There is a fascinating variety of styles, techniques and traditions that have developed over the long history of Andean civilization.
And the results are stunning; bright reds, purples and rich browns, lined with blues and oranges, all dyed from natural plants native to the region, combined in patterns of lines and symbols that reflect ideas and designs thought up long ago.
Travelling throughout Peru there are many places to acquire textiles and weavings, although it should be said that despite places such as Ayacucho and Tarma having strong weaving traditions, it can often be more difficult nowadays to find much for sale in these towns as they are off the tourist trail and most textiles are woven for local use.
Where to buy textiles in Cusco, Peru• Centro de Textiles Tradicionales de Cusco
Av. El Sol 603, Cusco, Peru, (84) 228-117, website.
• Asociación Central de Artesanas y Artesanos del Sur Andino
Av. Tullumayo 274, Cusco, Peru, (84) 233-466, website.
In the key destinations, some places sell textiles of far higher quality than others. Generally speaking the high demand for textiles has caused mass production of often poor quality and substandard goods. This can be seen in places such as Pisac, where the market has been saturated with cheaply produced and poor quality textiles.
Rest assured, there are still organizations that strive to high standards of quality, and that aim to maintain the traditions of textile communities. Not only this but they pay their producers better wages.
Textiles in Cusco
Centre for Traditional Textiles of Cusco
is one such place, they have excellent quality products, and though these might be considered expensive, they definitely offer value for money. A tour of many of the communities that produce the wares can also be facilitated by the center.
Another is the
Asociación Central de Artesanas y Artesanos del Sur Andino
(Store of Weavers) on Av. Tullumayo, which has displays within the shop as well as very good quality weavings and other textiles. Again there are above average prices, but the Weavers store makes sure the artisans are given fifty percent of the sale.
If you do go to Pisac try to steer away from the main thoroughfare and buy goods from the ladies who cannot afford to rent stands. Their textiles are very good quality and are actually handmade. You can pick up little bits and pieces like bracelets, wallets and headbands, all perfect souvenirs with a tiny piece of Andean history.
Textiles in Lima
In Lima you can head down Av. Petit Thouars to all the stands, and although you have to be aware of some of the cheap quality mentioned before, there are some real bargains to be found and some very fine textiles. The same could be said for the shops out on Av. Marina for the more adventurous who perhaps are in Pueblo Libre or on their way from the Airport, and there are a lot of good Alpaca wool goods to be found.
This is a guest article sponsored by Peru Discover, specialists in Peru tours and customized Peru travel packages.