When Saturnino was only 8 years old, his father taught him to weave on a loom. He worked weeks on this first weaving, carefully pouring his affection into the work. When it was finally completed, Saturnino brought this precious piece to his father, who rolled it up, put it under his arm, and started to walk away. Following his father to the edge of a nearby river, Saturnino watched in stunned silence as his father spoke a few soft words and threw the textile into the water. The weaving was washed away, never to be seen again.
Years later, Saturnino found the courage to ask his father why his first weaving was thrown into the river. His father patted his head and told him that he threw the textile into the river as an offering, so that his hands would always flow like water when he was weaving.
Almost fifty years later, Saturnino continues his family’s centuries old tradition of weaving. Working alongside multiple generations of weavers, he studies and revitalizes disappearing techniques and designs of Peruvian textiles.
The process for these handmade tapestries and shawls requires many hands and many months. Yarn and thread are handspun with a drop spindle and dyed with plants and cochineal that imbue the materials with the bright colors found in textiles of the past. After dyeing, the thread is left to rest for a year before it can be used on a loom, to keep it from being too “lively”. Some weavings are tie dyed using rocks and strings to mask the fabric. Others are sewn together into patterns using patchwork. Multiple dye baths, along with these techniques, create a range of designs, from zigzags and animals to documentary pieces that tell the stories of the Ayacucho people.
Saturnino has received awards and international recognition for his work, including his recent selection to participate in the 2015 International Folk Art Market | Santa Fe. Along with other first-time artists, Saturnino is in need of sponsors to help make this journey possible. Sponsorships cover costs including training, international airfare, lodging, local transportation, and meals.
For more information about how to sponsor Saturnino or another first-time artist for the International Folk Art Market | Santa Fe, click here. Your gift will empower them to transform their life and give voice to their community.