Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco

Textiles laden with traditional patterns and symbolic layouts carry rare information among indigenous people of Peru, where writing has never been the prime means of communication among Inca people. As the industrial world impacts even the most remote Andean villages, Nilda Callañaupa, Coordinator of the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco (CTTC) special project, is working against time to help communities preserve traditions that might otherwise be lost.

Recently the Center has been working with five communities to build shelters where villagers can gather to weave, plan communal activities, share information, and host CTTC dyeing and other technical workshops. Protected from heavy rain during the prime weaving season, elders now meet and pass on knowledge to younger members of the community. In Chinchero and Patabamba, clubs have been established where children get together with Nilda on a regular basis to learn village patterns their parents may have forgotten.

Nilda has also been building a collection of traditional textiles to be used for consultation by villagers seeking to revive heretofore lost techniques, layouts, and patterns. "Traditional" pieces are often weavings made just twenty or thirty years ago, before great changes occurred. Works purchased from weaving families by merchants and sold in markets and stores in Cusco are rapidly being taken out of Peru. Nilda, however, is in a position to buy weavings from owners who value her preservation work and want to sell to the Center in order to preserve access to their family heirlooms. Her eventual goal is to establish local collections to be kept in each of the villages as well as traveling exhibits within Peru.

In her travels, Nilda sees the finest of textiles; the rarest pieces are often offered to her for sale. Friends of Cultural Survival and the CTTC can give Nilda the opportunity to purchase for the Center a textile or textiles made by virtuoso Andean weavers of yesterday or today. Donated textile(s) will be kept in Peru, added to the Center's growing collection near or within the village of origin.

In the Peruvian Andes Nilda can acquire a fine textile for as little as U.S. $60-$100. To purchase a textile for the Center's collection, any individual may make a donation of this or another amount, made out to Cultural Survival at the address below. For $120 a donor will receive a matted photograph of the newly acquired CTTC collection piece with information about the village where it was made, the name of the maker when known, and the location and circumstances of the purchase. The donor will also become a Friend of the Center and receive La Tejedora, the CTTC quarterly newsletter which provides current information about Andean textiles, the activities of the Center and exhibits in the United States and Peru.

Article copyright Cultural Survival, Inc.

Since 1972 Cultural Survival has been advocating for Indigenous Peoples' rights and supporting Indigenous communities’ self-determination, cultures and political resilience.

Learn More

To read about Cultural Survival’s work around the world, click here. To read more articles on the subject use our Search function and explore 40 years of information on Indigenous issues.

Do More

For ways to take action to help Indigenous communities, click here.


We take on governments and multinational corporations—and they always have more resources than we do—but with the help of people like you, we do win. Your contribution is crucial to that effort. Click here to do your part.

Together, We Can Support Indigenous Communities in Nepal

nepal map

Cultural Survival is not a disaster relief organization. We work towards a world in which the rights of Indigenous Peoples are respected, protected, and fulfilled.

Bikalpa Gyan Kedra, an organization in Nepal founded by our Board Member Stella Tamang offers alternative educational opportunities to Indigenous girls and is not a disaster relief organization either, but since the earthquake they have been acting as a shelter to 300 local families. They need basic items like drinking water and food.

Radio Kairan in Kubu-Kasthali is asking for help with purchasing a power generator to get his community radio station back up and running to provide an essential means of communication for villagers on relief efforts as well as to power his community. Cost for this generator would be about $2,500

We have set up a special fund to assist our Indigenous contacts in Nepal. With your help, we can provide some limited assistance to our friends in desperate need.

Donate to Nepal