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Bolivian Artisans Create Textiles Using Skills Passed Down Through the Generations

Five hours from the city of La Paz is the Municipality of Moco Moco. The majority of the communities in this are dedicated to the breeding of llamas and alpacas for the purpose of keeping alive a craft that is generations old. Luisa Quispe and her grandson Pedro live in the community of Huarachani and dedicate their time to their craft. Luisa says that Pedro has been working as an artisan since he was six years old.

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Being an artisan in this area takes time, skill, and patience. Luisa spends approximately one month on each satchel. She begins by shearing the alpaca wool, then washing and spinning the wool. She then goes to the loom to bring the design to life. Luisa says that each satchel has a different design and is unique. Pedro put his name in every satchel that he creates and uses a design to give luck and fortune to the person who carries it.

Craftsmen in llamas and alpaca textiles face many struggles such as keeping the animals alive during prolonged dry seasons and competing with those who use synthetic material instead of genuine fiber as a way to keep their costs low. Luisa hopes that artisans like her can form a cooperative. “It would make me happy if we could unite as artisans and start selling together,” she says. An organized cooperative would help expand a tight market and address the various forms of competition that they face.

Creating unique textiles is a way of life and part of Bolivian culture that has deep roots. This type of artisan work dates back to the pre-Inca era. The knowledge has been passed down from generation to generation making these artisans incredibly skilled in their craft.

Unfortunately, Luisa says “the crafts alone do not provide enough to live on” forcing many to migrate to the cities for better life opportunities such as Pedro’s parents who are currently living in La Paz for better access to income-generating opportunities. However, Luisa and Pedro enjoy being a part of Bolivian culture that everyone in their family line has participated in for hundreds of years.

CHOICE Humanitarian supports sustainable development that embraces the local culture, social structures, and tradition.

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