Tinkuy: Coming Together

Third Time Even More Charmed

It’s an interesting word, Tinkuy. While it means a “coming together” in Quechua, it means more than that. It means (among other untranslatable things) coming together like rushing streams converging in foaming eddies to create a bigger river. There’s a lot of energy implied in the word.

The first Tinkuy, in 2010, was a whirlwind of energy. The decision to hold the event was made in March amidst one of the most violent rainy seasons the Cusco District had experienced in many years. The railroad to Machu Picchu was washed out. Bridges were washed out. People perished. But the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco (CTTC), a dynamic organization headed by Nilda Callañaupa, said, “Let’s do it!” And so they did, a scant seven months later. And it was splendid.


At left, weavers and spinners from different areas observe the work of Navajo Master Weaver, Barbara Teller Ornelas; at right, a backstrap weaver demonstrates her technique. Photo by Elizabeth Doerr.

The event was held at a delightful conference center in the Sacred Valley between Cusco and Machu Picchu. What I remember is a conference hall filled with several hundred indigenous weavers gathered together in their finest traje. I remember the sonorous, booming voice of a translator speaking all the presentations in Quechua—a noble language. I’ll never forget the hilarity of spinning contests pitting young against old, Quechua against gringa, and guess who won? But most memorable for me was the closing ceremony when a group of elderly weavers took the stage and gave their looms to the children.

It was a massive effort, a huge success, and when it was over, Nilda said, “Never again.”

But you know what happened next. An event that powerful, that filled with energy, can’t just die. Three years later, 2013,Tinkuy was back. This time it was in the up-to-date Cusco conference center right in the heart of the city, where the courtyard was filled with weavers from all over South America, from India, from Mexico, from Navajo Nation, demonstrating their craft and selling their goods. The auditorium was alive with tri-lingual presentations. The breakout rooms were buzzing with workshops: how to create for the international market; how to do ancient Inca techniques. I will never forget the parade up Avenida del Sol and around the Plaza de Armas—hundreds of weavers in their finest dress, dancing their way to the Tinkuy.

Now we’re coming up on Tinkuy 2017, November 8–11. The CTTC staff has learned so much, developed such fine organizational skills, that they’re planning something bigger and better than ever. The keynote speeches and the group presentations will reflect a growing global awareness of the value of indigenous arts. Artisans from many nations will come to share. The theme, Past, Present, Future, will send its energy out into the world. Don’t you wish you could be there? You can!

Registration will begin in January 2017 at www.andeantextilearts.org.

—Christina Garton

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