Indigenous weaving from the Maldives

November 11th, 2013, 5pm

It was -12°C with few clouds. The breeze was gentle.

Storytelling Assignment 6 – Indigenous Weaving and Indigenous Storytelling

This relationship between Indigenous Weaving and Indigenous Storytelling is very popular. In fact the Institute of American Indian Arts actually runs a course on Storyweaving. This course looks at the Indigenous traditions of storytelling and weaving as tools for the preservation and transmission of knowledge. They even have a software tool developed called Storyweaver.

Upon searching this topic, I found a very interesting website called Epicure & Culture. There was an article on the Quechua culture: Preserving the Peruvian Weaving Tradition. I haven’t been to Peru but it is on my list; as my mom has been to Machu Picchu several times. In Peru, they are several indigenous weaving communities, which even have tour busses traveling to them so visitors can take a peek into their world. One community in particular, Chaullaqocha is 15,000 feet up, which would really feel the cool air. The temperature can even drop below zero in the afternoons. This community is 2 hours from a main road, there is no running water or electricity and has about 90 people and 26 children living there.

For these people, weaving is an honored tradition. It has been an important part of their culture since 2500BCE. They believe that weaving helps shape their personal and regional identities. It is a form of “inter-regional communication”. These indigenous people can vest their entire personality and identity on being a weaver. In terms of the identity, the differences in the use of color, the design and the variations in their dress can help to distinguish people from different communities and regions.

The storytelling link comes in due to the knowledge that is developed and passed down through generations. The techniques used in the weaving process are very elaborate. Even while the women are tending to the children and the animals they are quite often still weaving. The first step of the process is to shear the animals and wash the fibers. Then they spin them into a fine yarn. This can be a very time consuming process and is fundamentally a fine art as it is hard and essential to master this task. Some children begin learning this process at the age of 5 or 6 as it is so intricate. The yarn is then plied and dyed. The weavers use plants, minerals, or insects for color. The knowledge of which plants will be useful, when and how they grow and how to prepare them are all passed through the generations. Once the yarn is ready, the textile is then woven row by row.

The Quechua was an oral language; however they textiles are means of conveying thoughts, emotions, and impressions about surroundings. They can breed traditions for their region and community and record historical events that happen. Weaving is indeed an art form in this Peruvian culture and the storytelling is a very important part as they pass their knowledge on and weave about important customs and events.

The photo is of 2 mats that were weaved by indigenous people in the Maldives. My brother in law flew planes there and brought these back for me from the local people. I thought the picture was fitting although the location is not the same.

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Kelly Barr

I have been married for 15 years and am the mother of 2 small children. I grew up in BC but now live in Northern Manitoba to fight the winters and the mosquitoes!

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