This remote community is located on the Lares Valley route, approximately nine kilometers up the mountain from the Sacred Valley (approximately three-four hours of uphill hiking). It is located in a very mountainous area, at the foot of a glacier with six lakes surrounding it, at an altitude of 4100 m. Currently, the community is only accessible by foot. Drinking water comes from an aquifer (though must be boiled to be potable) and water for irrigation comes from rivers supplied by glacier lakes. There is no electricity; however, electricity poles have been hand-carried up the mountain over the past two years, and have recently been installed with the hope of electricity in the near future.
Cancha Cancha is an agricultural and weaving community. Due to its high elevation, potatoes are the main crop. The community shares three collective greenhouses where vegetables are grown, but this does not produce a sufficient amount of food to feed everyone. Other resources include native trees such as qaunia and cacha conqo. The plants they use for dyeing include panti, chiri chiri, ccumu ccumu, q'eto, chunkay, and huarmi. The community is very committed to conserving naturally grown plants and sustainable forms of harvesting.
The traditional way of life is still very strong in Cancha Cancha; whilst students often learn in Spanish they are deeply committed to the heritage of the Quechua language. The community often makes offerings to the earth and animals with coca, wheat, fruits, and flowers. They also value ayni, which is the Andean tradition of reciprocity. The weaving heritage is strong within Cancha Cancha and they have been partnering with Mosqoy since 2009. Passing on the weaving tradition is deemed important as they do not want Incan traditions to be lost. Cancha Cancha is Mosqoy’s only partner community that still raises and shears alpacas as one of its primary practices, and which hand-spins its own alpaca fibre as a proud part of its textile tradition.
Huaran is a rural village located along the main Sacred Valley route. The weaving association, Munay Urpi, meets together regularly to weave and develop dyeing skills on the side of the road.
The weaving tradition in Huaran has not been as strong as other communities due to its accessibility and modern influences. However, it has been revitalized here through teaching from other local communities a few years ago; they have been working with Mosqoy since 2009. Nobody in the community owns their own alpacas, but some families have sheep, and they often buy or trade wool from Calca and Urubamba. The association is well known for creating beautiful bags that are popular at Mosqoy’s trade fairs, and for designing their own innovative modern products. In the future, they hope to acquire their own plot of land along the main road, allowing tourists to visit the community.
Since working with Munay Urpi in 2009, Mosqoy has seen the association grow from a fledgling unofficial group of friends who wished to improve their weaving abilities to a legal entity that is well organized, with inspiring leadership that hosts regular meetings and which produces high-class textiles - both traditional and fusion - that are being commissioned by consumers and retailers regionally and internationally.
Asociación de Tejedores Tradicionales Laraypas Indígenas de Amaru
Amaru is a community located 30 km north of the tourist town of Pisac, in the province of Calca. Amaru is a sustainable farming community whose motto is to reciprocate back to Mother Earth who gave it life. With their textile profits, community members have cured cataracts in elders and implemented nutrition programs with youth. They have also improved sanitation for all community members by constructing compostable toilets.
The main jobs within this community are construction, agriculture, and textile fabrication. The natural plants they use for dyeing wool are colle, chilca, quinua, eucalyptus, and checche, as well as many varieties of flowers. The association has a plant garden in which it grows various species of dye and medicinal plants.
Pitukiska is the most isolated and impoverished community that Mosqoy works with. Accessible only by foot, houses are spread over a large area of agricultural land, set amongst several mountain peaks. Their weaving association’s name, Mayu Ch’aska (meaning “River Star”), was chosen in part because of the river that flows through the community and the abundance of stars that they are able to see at night. There is no electricity or potable water.
Most of the community members own their own sheep and alpacas. Men are primarily employed in agriculture, while women work in textiles. The weaving association regularly meets in the open space beside the greenhouse, with children as young as 10 learning the textile tradition. There is a nearby elementary school with 50 students; however, the closest secondary school is in Parobamba, approximately four hours away by foot, each way.
Community members most enjoy working in the fields and raising animals, the clean air, and the pristine environment which they enjoy taking care of. The people of Pitukiska like the tranquility of their community, and enjoy living in the countryside, raising animals, and their ability to make products off the land.
Parobamba has been working with Mosqoy since 2009. The weaving tradition is very strong here with most children learning the tradition around the age of 13, often due to personal choice and interest.
Parobamba is part of a fragile ecological zone, so all crops and vegetables are grown organically and fertilized with sheep and guinea pig manure. The community buys most of its wool and alpaca fibre from the nearby community of Inka Cancha.
The community’s location is particularly noteworthy, as it is on the very edge of the last Andean mountains, bordering the Amazon’s Cloud Forest and Manu National Park, a biosphere reserve on the edge of the Peruvian rainforest. It is maybe for this reason that the textiles of this area are characterized by bright, tropical colours, including shades of turquoise, bright greens, and pinks. The community is currently struggling with the implementation of a Canadian copper mine just below it, which has drastically changed the community and affected access to its natural resources.
Mosqoy is currently helping the Parobamba weaving association build a communal weaving centre, a dye plant garden, and plant conservation area, with financial aid by McGill University’s SLA Summit.