Walking Through Markets of Old Peru: A Photo Essay - August 2007

Flury, Tracy is a Peruvian photographer, now living in Spain. She studied photography in Lima- Perú and then went on to do a specialization at Speos Photography School in Paris. Interested in many aspects of photography, she has worked in photojournalism, portraiture and brand photography.

CRT, August 2007

The Peruvian tradition of textile making has been around for a very long time, long before the invention of factories, machinery and synthetic dyes which help along the process, making it to this day, a traditionally hand made art form. The knowledge of the weaving and dyeing process has been passed along through the generations of its people, making it still an exquisite and hard process. It started as an all-natural process, starting with the recollection of the base product, cotton or wool and into the gathering of the plants, fruits and flowers which were used to colour the fabrics.
We have to bear in mind that in Pre Incan time, numerous cultures were spaced throughout the territory, each with its own customs and traditions, working with whatever elements from nature they had at hand. These prevail to our time, making patterns and colours in jumpers and rugs distinguishable to different areas even now. The sierra is cold, thus using and extracting their base material, wool, from the “auquenidos” like the alpaca. (The auquenido is a camel-like animal, minus the humps) The coast-based cultures had no need for high cold resistant fabrics, using instead mostly cotton. Today, alpaca wool is still rich, warm and expensive; the animals pasture the high territory in the mountains and have their wool cut for the manufacture of chals, jumpers and chullos – a hat-like device that covers the head and ears. Baby alpaca wool is softer and even more demanded for its quality. Pima cotton is Peru’s best cotton, hand picked even today to avoid having the machinery tinting the white with yellow. The different use of colours in each region is due to the simple fact that e.g. a sierra flower won’t grow on the coast, or the colour of the soil in the jungle areas, called the “selva” is redder than the brownish coastal soil, thus each culture used whatever they had at hand for the fabrication of their textiles.
These images show products from an Indian market in downtown Lima, mainly wool articles from Huancayo, Cusco and Puno, all sierra territory. Today of course, many things have been modernized and are manufactured in factories, with many of the end products intended for export to the United States and Europe, where the market is rapidly growing. These tend to be family business, who maintain the base coloration and designs and of the region they came from. These designs replicate those made in ancient times and are meant to narrate a story, represent an animal which was considered divinity, show the path traveled by it’s people or show an ancient calendar, among others.
The purses come from Arequipa and it's all hand sewn. The sewing is typically recognized as theirs, especially from the Colca area (which is one of the places where you can go see the condors in the early morning.) The condor has a strong link with Peruvian culture (songs, tales, etc.)

The wall rug is describing a sierra scene, but it’s utility is different than the others. For starters, the details in it are sewn in high relieve rather than weaved and the colours used, bright green and pink, differ considerably from the usual. These are made by the sierra people, called “serranos” but who migrated to Lima. They are meant to show a scene in their life’s back home.
The last textiles come from the amazons and are done by a tribe called the “Shipibos”. These are not meant to be exported, but rather are made just for recreation, which then end up in Lima for sale. The patterns made are random, whatever the person who made it felt like doing. It’s all hand painted using mud, flowers and the root of trees found in the jungle, giving the fabric a unique colouring and texture.

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