From Chilean Altiplano to European fashion
There is a lot to say about the indigenous Aymara people but today’s focus is the Aymar Sawuri group and their high-fashion Alpaca craftsmanship
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Aymara People: Heritage and Culture
- The Aymara people are indigenous to the Andean region of South America, mainly from Bolivia, Peru, and Chile.
The Aymara Language and Traditions
- The origins of the Aymara language (also called Aymara) dates back thousands of years to pre-Columbian times.
- The Aymara people have a rich history and culture, with evidence of their existence dating back to ancient civilizations such as Tiwanaku. Aymara religion is mainly catholic. (do you know what plant element constitutes an important part of aymara religious practice?…It is coca leaves)
- Aymara its spoken by millions of people in the Andean region and recognized as an official language in Bolivia and Peru.
Aymara Livelihoods: From Agriculture to Textiles
- Some of the aymara traditions relied on a variety of resources to sustain their livelihoods in the Andean region. Some of these resources include:
- Agriculture though the cultivating crops such as potatoes, quinoa, corn, and beans in the high-altitude Andean environment.
- Livestock such as llamas, alpacas, and sheep for their meat, wool, and other products.
- Mining, particularly in the extraction of silver, tin, and other minerals from the Andean mountains.
- Aymara communities are known for their traditional textiles, often made from wool or cotton and feature intricate designs and patterns.
Tourism and Challenges in the Aymara Community
- In recent years, tourism has become an important resource for some Aymara communities, as visitors come to explore the Andean landscape and learn about the region’s rich history and culture.
Aymara challenges in resource extraction, land use, and regional indigenous rights will be discussed in our Podcast
A Chilean’s Perspective: Daniel’s Experience
As a Chilean, spending time with them was a humbling experience that I will forever treasure.
They greeted me with kindness and generosity. They allowed me to see and document on film their fields where they crop their Alfalfa, Quinoa and other goods that are essential for their livelihood. A land where they also have their Alpacas and other farm animals.
They prepared delicious traditional Aymara meals so we all enjoy the food while they spoke about their origins, stories of endurance and other relevant topics.
Craftsmanship in Alpaca Wool
And last but not least, I was able to document on film the whole process of how they create high fashion items with Alpaca wool such as Ruanas, Scarfs, Shawls, etc. while listening to them talking about each step. This was amazing to see as each piece was done by hand and outdoors…surreal
Their products are displayed in selective Boutiques in New York and Toronto and now, many of them in Slovenia.
No specific item is identical than the other because of their handcrafted nature which makes them unique and exclusive.
Maruša’s Take on Aymara Wool Products
Wool as a main material for clothes and home products was always a beautiful thing for me. One downside is that with many wool products I have trouble with itchiness on my skin while wearing or touching them but I am happy to tell you that I don’t have this trouble anymore. You know why? Because I had the experience to try the Alpaca wool, handcrafted by a group of Aymara women from Chile and no issues at all!
The first time I saw and felt the softness, warmth and almost silk like feel of their products, I was blown away.
I had the honour to meet these indigenous Aymara women months ago through a video call when Daniel visited them in the North part of Chile in a town that is in the middle of the desert.
I was able to see their alpaca farm, i met most of the ladies who are behind the creation of these wool garments and I was able to see a part of their process on how they work the wool. A completely handcrafted technique that they still use after hundreds of years… A breathtaking scene to witness and a rare one because nowadays, most of the things are done in a fast way and by machines.
Experience with Aymara Handcrafted Wool
When checking the catalogue of their products I was sure I was looking to a high fashion company with a sophisticated taste. The patterns and looks of their ruanas, scarfs, ponchos and home products are gorgeous. A very detailed and highly quality work, but few months later, when seeing and touching them in person was the real surprise.
I Never had such a beautiful wool items on myself. I love to wear them on a daily basis as they are perfect for the Winter, Autumn and even in the fresh evenings during Spring. It feels so cosy to wrap myself around with this soft and gentle material.
Also the blankets and pillow covers are perfect home items. Many of my coworkers and friends shared the same opinion. They love the look and feel from the items they tried and now each one of them wants to have a piece or more for themselves.
Aymar Sawuri: Unique Handcrafted Fashion
I’m proud to include handcrafted alpaca wool items by Chilean Aymara women from Aymar Sawuri in my minimalist wardrobe, eagerly awaiting more pieces infused with their positive energy.