Lucas Machacca Apaza
From tasseled, brightly colored hat bands to ceremonial ponchos, Peru’s Association of Weavers Q’ero offers a veritable feast of exquisitely detailed, beautifully crafted woven items. Nestled in an Andean highland region, the Hatan Q’ero indigenous group is a Quechua-speaking community with roots in rural areas surrounding Cusco. Weaving is integral to the Q’ero way of life and has been for centuries.
Each and every item produced by the Association is made entirely by hand, usually by one person from start to finish. Locally sourced wool is gathered and cleaned, then either dyed with organic pigments or left in natural shades of white, gray, and deep brown. Once ready, wool is spun on traditional hand spindles, and woven on backstrap looms. Hats are hand-knitted from alpaca wool in the same manner. For the Q’ero, woven goods are not only an opportunity for the maker to showcase his or her talent; each item serves a purpose, whether practical or ceremonial.
Hatun Q’ero design and technique have been passed down from mother to daughter, and from father to son, since the time of Inca civilization. Their folk art has changed little in all this time, depicting abstract patterns or natural elements such as lightning, a river, and colorful flowers. In this part of the world, the Hatun Q’eros of the Q’ero Nation are highly respected as the “Keepers of the Ancient Knowledge” and call themselves the children of Inkari, the first Inca.