Rich colors in the fabric of life

Trip Start Jan 23, 2008
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Trip End May 23, 2008


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Flag of Peru  , Taquile,
Sunday, May 4, 2008

Today we visited the island of Taquile. Like Amantani, the lifestyle is almost entirely agrarian, supplemented by fishing, trade with the mainland, and tourism. The trip required that we walk across the small island from one port to the other, a lovely stroll among ancient agricultural terraces and mud brick homes with sweeping vistas of the deep blue lake below.

Most importanly, textiles are a central part of life on Taquile. Here, the color of a manīs hat signifies his marital status, and the pom-poms on a womanīs mantle indicate wether she is willing to entertain suitors or not. A entirely red hat is worn by married men, while single men have a white tip on their hat. An eligible bachelor wears the long part of his hat to the side while those guys NOT looking, like the sweet widower at the restaurant, wear it straight back.

Another textile tradition is that brides present their husbands with a very stiff wide belt woven from lambs wool and their own hair. This was originally worn as body armour when times were more war-like. Nowadays, they are still quite useful as they provide back protection for working fields or lifting nets laden with fish.

Interestingly, while women do the spinning and weaving, men do all the knitting. As an aspiring knitter, I was SO impressed by the tiny stiches and intircate mulit-colored designs.
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