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Learning to weave

In the Andes, learning to weave is a gender-differentiated process, in which sets of learners receive communal instruction (in Aymara, thakhi; in Quechua, nan) in the tasks of producing textiles. Men and women learn different tasks, depending on the local culture and region. For example, in the south-central Andes women today learn textiles and song, and men plaiting and musical instruments.

Instruction in weaving involves an institutionalised sequence of stages of apprenticeship in the tasks required in textile production, in which there is movement from the simplest to the most complex practices, according to the age and sex of those involved.

During 2010 and 2011, Jacqueline Elva Dávalos and Claudia Fernández (pictured) filmed the weavers Nicolasa Ayca Mamani (pictured), Silvia Espejo Ayca and Elvira Espejo in Qaqachaka, documenting the stages of the weaving learning process in the rural regions of the Andes.

These stages are detailed in D. Y. Arnold and E. Espejo, Ciencia de tejer en los Andes: estructuras y técnicas de fas de urdimbre (La Paz: Fundación Cultural del Banco Central de Bolivia, Fundación Interamericana, Fundación Albó and ILCA, 2012).