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Last weekend I hiked up to Parobamba, a small community in the Mapacho River Valley. This is the community where I will be doing a Directed Studies research project, in partnership with the UVic Environmental Studies Department, on plant dyes. Two weeks ago I proposed my research to the community. It was quite cold, and getting late but the weavers patiently listened to me. After my initial explanation I opened the space up to questions. One of the concerns that community members had was me taking information I gained from them and benefiting from it. I assured the community that I would only act in their interest, with the goal of educating consumers on the amazing dye plants that are used to colour the wool that is used to weave Q'ente's textiles.

Weavers listening to my Directed Studies research proposal

I hope that through education consumers will value the knowledge woven into traditional textiles. Theoretically, and hopefully, this could positively effect the communities through increasing textile sales. I felt the discussion was very valuable and afterwards expressed my gratitude for everyone's presence. With that it was pushing 6:30 pm and the community approved my research: 11 volunteers signed up! Yay!

The outline of my research is to collect plant samples as well as traditional ecological knowledge pertaining to the plants collected. Many dye plants, if not all in Parobamba, are only identified by their Quechua name. One of my main goals is to identify these plants by their scientific, Spanish, and English names. I have a plant press (generously lent to me by the UVic Environmental Studies department) which I will use to dry plants and then take them to a local herbarium in Cusco for identification. A week ago I spent one day in Parobamba collecting plant samples to dry and identify in Cusco. With the help of various community members I collected, Thiri, K'insakuchu, Yanali, Ñuñunca, and Chapi. These plants are now safely drying in my plant press in the Casa Mosqoy office. On my next trip to Parobamba I will engage in doing interviews. I hope to learn more about the traditional ecological significance, their medicinal and spiritual uses. I will be sure to share the final product with the blogging community!

Natural Alpaca yarn dyed with Yanali.
The dye plant, Yanali

Apart from dye plant explorations I have been working hard for Q'ente. We just sent a shipment of beautiful textiles to Canada. Before the textiles were shipped to Canada we had the pleasure of doing a photo shoot in Sacsayhuaman (beautiful Incan ruins above the city of Cusco). Johnny, a recently graduated Mosqoy student in tourism, told us the historical significance of some of the ruins, while Carolina, our designated photographer, caught us in our best light!

If you enjoyed these photos I am sure you would enjoy being able to touch the oh-so-soft alpaca textiles, yes? Well, if you live in Victoria or the Lower Mainland you can! Check out our Facebook page for upcoming events where you can find many of these beautiful textiles on display and for sale.

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