Artisan Market Access

Woolcraft embroidery is an important part of household economies in highland Peru. In the Foundation’s area of operation in the north and western sectors of Puno, families tend to engage in diverse number of income activities including agriculture, temporary off-farm labor in construction or services, small-scale commerce and services, knitting and embroidery. In some households, villagers still spin, dye, and weave wool fiber from their sheep and alpacas.

The Chijnaya Foundation is a proud vendor of heritage wool crafts from Puno and has supported the efforts of an artisans’ association in the village of Chijnaya to revive traditional embroidery styles that had been abandoned in the 1960s in favor of faster and less elaborate forms that had been used for wholesale to middlemen for sale in low-cost tourist markets near Puno.

In 2006, the association of 110 artisans produced a first run of panoramic embroidery tapestries depicting village life. The small-stitched, un-bordered figures in these fabric murals were put together in narrative form, with the three pachas, or spheres of the universe depicted in lyric landscape form, with the realm of the gods, the wild, and the human world woven into each tapestries.

In 2008, the artisans’ committee applied to show their tapestries in the International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The IFAM is a selective exhibition and attracts collectors from around the world. It has featured the work of artists from over 100 countries, and the Chijnaya artisans were delighted when they received word that they had they would be among the featured artisans.

The embroideries, which artisans called achachis, a quechua word referring to elders or things traditional, were adapted to several sizes and styles for marketability, and enjoyed robust sales in 2008, 2009, and 2010 at the Folk Art Market. In addition, smaller embroideries and novelties developed by the collective have also been brisk sellers in end-of-year holiday markets, and have found some modest sales in contemporary world craft markets in New Mexico such as Poco a Poco.

Contact us for information on how to buy individual pieces or arrange for a sale in your school, church, or civic organization.

Chijnaya Art Featured at the University of Richmond

On view in the Lora Robins Gallery of Design from Nature, University of Richmond Museums, and the International Gallery, Carole Weinstein International Center, September 16 through December 9, 2011, is the exhibition Achachis y Bordados: Storytelling Embroideries from Chijnaya, Peru.

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