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animaná and HXN stewardships of ancestral techniques and natural fibers around the world: La Chuspa

The woven fabric is more than a commercial activity, is the Andean communities' understanding of the world. Through the fabric, their cultural heritage is revealed, showing their understanding of nature, spirituality, uses, costumes, as well as their rituals. In Hecho x Nosotros, we are conscious of their wisdom and secrets that come from the past, so we work to bring this reality and culture to the international ethical fashion market. Is for this reason that since the beginning one of our main goals was to become guardians of the Andean culture’s woven fabric and techniques.


We consider that the textile legacy is part of the cultural heritage that belongs not only to these communities but also to Latin America and humanity. In Hecho x Nosotros we are committed to disseminate and promote the conservation of woven fabrics and the recovery of the historical heritage, the techniques, and natural dyes used by the ancestors, among them the “chuspa” fabric.


The “chuspa” is a ceremonial bag (Diccionario de Bienes Culturales, 2021), made with Camelid fiber, that was used mostly at funerals by the Nasca-Huari culture as an ornament for essential festivities. Unlike the rest of the bags or other textiles containers as sacks, telegas, and wayuñas, the “chuspa” has always been used to carry weed leaves, that in contrast to the Inkuñas, its use is mostly linked to male individuals (María Jesús Jiménez Díaz, 2003) at Incas and colonial times, possibly belonging to members of the elite, such as high-ranking officers fig. 1) and royalty (Horta Trocallotis & Agüero, 1999; Hughes, 2017).



Fig. 1. Juan Tingo with chuspa. Folio recto. Prado-Tello Dossier c. 1560-1640. Det Kongelige bibliotek, Köbenhavn [Copenhagen]


Regarding the design, it is a polychrome bag with a rectangular plane shape and a braided string near the top edge that works as a handle to cross the garment to the body (Romero Guevara, 2005). It´s characterized by the combination of interwoven colored threads, made up from a woven panel on a loom with red, yellow, and blue camelid fiber yarns in the Sprang technique (braided strands, stretched between two sticks and fixed at the top and bottom) and “z2s” (two braided strands in a “z” shape and then twisted together in an “s” shape) (Ma. Jesús Jiménez Díaz, 2000). The textile surface is embellished with patterns as geometric waves, zoomorphic elements, and vertical stripes of different thicknesses; in some pieces, tassels are applied at the bottom of the bag (Paulinyi Horta, 2018), whose results reach an enormous technical and aesthetic complexity.




The study of archaeological textiles shows an evolution in the wear of chuspa bag, found as a funeral's trousseau in Arica (Paulinyi Horta, 2018); as an authority symbol in the Imperial Cusco (Hughes, 2017), and even as a way for Q´ero members to communicate their history and cosmovision in the festivities and regional celebrations. Likewise, the technological mechanism used to create fabrics have diversified over time; from prehispanic times there are three types of Andean looms: the waist loom, the horizontal and vertical loom; and after the Spanish arrival a pedal-operated loom was adopted, all of these three looms are used to date (María Jesús Jiménez Díaz, 2003). Without a doubt, the history, beauty, and complexity of the chuspa technique, make this piece part of a millenary tradition with unique features that shape our heritage.



References and where to learn more


Horta Trocallotis, H., & Agüero, C. (1999). Definición de chuspa: Textil de uso ritual durante el periodo intermedio tardío, en la zona arqueológica de Arica. In Actas de l XIV Congreso Nacional de Arqueología Chilena. contriución arqueológica N.5. (pp. 45–82).

Hughes, L. F. (2017). Weaving Imperial Ideas : Iconography and Ideology of the Inca Coca Bag. Textile, 9756(April), 148–178.

Jiménez Díaz, Ma. Jesús. (2000). Los tejidos prehispánicos del Museo de América y la reconstrucción del pasado Andinoi. Anales Del Museo de América, 8, 225–271.

Jiménez Díaz, María Jesús. (2003). El tejido andino: tecnología y diseño de una tradición milenaria. Textil e Indumentaria [Recurso Electrónico: Materias, Técnicas Yevolución, Facultad de Geografía e Historia Dela U.C.M., 186–204. Retrieved from https://www.ge-iic.com/files/Publicaciones/el_tejido_andino.pdf

Paulinyi Horta, M. (2018). Definiendo el estilo Altiplánico de bolsas chuspas a través de los ejemplares del cementerio prehispánico de Azapa 15, Arica, Chile. Boletín Del Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino, 23(1), 29–49.

Romero Guevara, Á. L. (2005). Tejiendo mensajes: Una lectura de los textiles arqueológicos de Arica. Revista Werken, 7, 111–131.

Tesauros del Patrimonio Cultural de España (2021). Chuspa. Diccionario de Bienes Culturales. Recuperado el 02/01/2021 dehttp://tesauros.mecd.es/tesauros/bienesculturales/1190753.html

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