The Sacred Valley is the main artery that links Cusco to the iconic Machu Picchu so as you might expect, it is packed year round with travelers exploring this beautiful part of the world. But did you know that just off the beaten track are traditional indigenous Quechua communities that still live like their ancestors and preserve their traditional way of life?
A while back we had the opportunity to try out a community tourism initiative run by the non-profit organization Awamaki in Ollantaytambo who work with local communities like the Patacancha communities to help them generate alternative streams of income. You can read more about their tours here.
They run several great projects including the tours but today we wanted to talk about their great ‘Awamaki Lab’ project which links traditional weavers and artisans (mainly female) with international designers. The idea is to use traditional and local materials and skills to develop functional and fashionable products for sale in Peru and the U.S – an interesting initiative that provides greater income for the artisans involved.
Designers take a sabbatical to come from the U.S and spend time in the Sacred Valley working with local Quechua communities where they investigate weaving methods and techniques and then together with the communities develop unique designs that can then be sold internationally.
This has allowed the Awamaki store in Ollantaytambo to stock a unique range of products including skirts and jackets, smartphone cases, gloves, hats and bags that have a more modern, attractive design but are made with local weaving techniques and materials.
Each item is hand-made and can take up to several weeks to create. Check out our photo gallery below to see this incredible process…