Wednesday, March 03, 2010
In my mail today -----
A copy of the Handwoven eNewsletter telling of a planned conference in Peru this coming October where 'we have the opportunity to experience the treasure of the Incas first-hand. Weavers, spinners, and dyers from all over the world will gather in Cusco, Peru, for Encuentro de Tejedores de las Américas, the Gathering of Weavers of the Americas. They will come to celebrate the rich textile heritage and cultures of the Americas; to share techniques, knowledge, and weaving experience; and to build ties of friendship that will enrich the community and the craft.
Off to the side was an information note about weaving in the empire of the Incas which impressed me so much I had to share.
"The website Suite101.com reports that “In Tiwantinsuyu, the empire of the Incas, spindles and looms were just as important as spears and shields. Cloth pervaded every aspect of Inca society, from adolescent rites of passage to major political alliances. The production and exchange of cloth held the Inca realm together just as effectively as the power of the Inca armies.”
According to Hiram Bingham (who some speculate was the inspiration for Indiana Jones): “[The textiles of the Incas] are as worthy of admiration as the finest specimens of Egyptian or Chinese weaving.... We are told that the finest textiles were made in the convents connected with the Temples of the Sun, by the Chosen Women, sometime called the Virgins of the Sun, who were carefully trained in this difficult art. Some of their products are as fine and soft as the finest silk.” If you want to know more about Hiram Bingham and see a crazy, psychedelic animation of an Inca woven tunic, click here.'
Do go and look, - even if you are not a weaver you cannot help but be amazed at the awesome creativity and techniques that were required to produce such gorgeous cloth.
Go further into the site by clicking on weaving in the sidebar and marvel at the intricacies of the designs within designs, - the golden rectangles and triangles in the Inca weaving.
Here is a sample of patterned cloth woven on a backstrap loom, - that is the one where you tie the warp around a tree and weave on the most primitive of looms. It is a different intellect from that which produces the technological marvels of today, but I am equally as appreciative of the concentration and the artistry and intellect that produced this cloth.
I suppose that given the great technological advance of this age it is only natural that there would be some arrogance about our achievements, and not a lot of appreciation of the 'primitive' cultures. But as you get older you get humbler, and you realize more and more that today's wonders are built on the shoulders of the cultures and the art and creativity of yesterday's civilizations.
I think weavers are especially aware of this, - and knitters too!