The Chawaytire weaving community set up the Inkapallay Association in the traditional quechua village of Chawaytire, about a 45 minute drive from the town of Pisac in the Sacred Valley of the Incas was set up over fifteen years ago in an attempt to save the traditional Andean weaving techniques that have been passed down from generation to generation.
The weavings they create are similar to the higher quality, hand-made weavings you can find throughout the Cusco region but a visit to the community is a unique opportunity to meet the weavers themselves, interact with the community, learn about their traditions and way of life and support their craft knowing that 100% of the profit is going directly back to the person who wove the object you buy.
This is definitely not a mainstream tourist attraction and as such is not highly organised. If you are interested in visiting ask your guide or driver to take you to the Chawaytire community on either a Saturday, Wednesday or Friday when weaving sessions are in place so you can ask questions and see the whole weaving process. If you organise your visit in advance they can also prepare a basic lunch and a demonstration of the entire weaving process for a small fee of 15 soles per person.
If however, you arrive on any other day, don’t despair because within minutes local women and children will come running to lay out their colourful woven objects for you to browse and buy.
If you want to organise your visit in advance, either call or get your guide to call the Association on (+51) 84 812 418 in Spanish or ideally Quechua. This is a payphone number so ask whoever answers to get President Luis Huaman or Eudes Guerra and say you will call back in five minutes. When you call back five minutes later you can organise the date and time of your visit with Luis or Eudes.
This is definitely an experience for those who want to taste a true flavour of traditional, rural quechua life without the hordes of tour buses. Do however, be willing to accept that time runs differently here and that communicating with quechua communities that often speak little spanish and no English is very different, sometimes frustrating but can be an incredible, enriching experience giving you a glimpse into the Quechua way of life.
Best of Cusco reccomends:
- The best days to visit are either Wednesday, Friday or Saturday. Wednesday is when the adults meet to weave, Friday is for the teenagers and Saturdays are for the kids who tend to be more timid and reluctant to communicate.
- If you can’t make it out to Chawaytire head to the Cusco Centre of Traditional Textiles where textiles from the Chawaytire community are on display and available for purchase.