Weaving in the Andean world

Edited versions of films produced by Robert Gerstmann in the 1950s.

Puno, Peru.
Desaguadero, Lago Titicaca.
Sucre, Bolivia.
Produced by Francisco Gallardo
Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino, 2011

Reticular weave

Reticular weave is a weaving technique that was developed by pre-Columbian Andean peoples around nine-hundred years ago. The technique uses a system of knots to produce an open, lightweight cloth. This animated clip illustrates the reticular weaving technique.

Animation by Pablo Vergara

Tejido Balanceado

Plain weave is a simpler and more widely-used technique for making cloth. It involves alternately lifting the odd and even warp threads for each successive weft shot to create a simple crisscross pattern. Weaving was invented in the Andes around three-thousand years ago.

Animation by Pablo Vergara and Carole Sinclaire / 2.23 min. / 2010

El gorro troncocónico de Arica

This type of cone-shaped hat is made from the top down, starting with a small circle of yarn. Using a cactus-needle or metal hook, fine camelid yarn is wound around a thicker multi-ply cord, which provides the circular form. The first rows of the spiral produce the upper disc of the hat, which usually was an undyed brown color. The body of the hat is made by adding rows onto the spiral at a different angle, in a combination of natural and/or dyed colors, depending on the desired design. At the place where the top disc joins the body of the hat a special “whipping” cord is wrapped on to finish off the disc. Some of these hats have cords inserted onto each side to allow the hat to be tied under the chin, and some have bunches of feathers protruding on top, attached inside with a cactus needle or knot.

By: Carlos Silva

Four-cornered hat of Tiwanaku

The four-cornered hat is constructed from the crown, with a ring formed from the first series of knotted loops. The knots are continued in a spiral pattern, with additional knots added on the diagonals to achieve the square shape of the hat. To make the sides of the hat, more knots are added at different intervals, depending on the shape and type of hat design: The knots are added in a spiral pattern if the hat is a single color, or in sections if more than one color is being used. The lower edge of the hat is finished off with a final row of knots. The “points” on the top of the hat are made separately. The relief designs on monochrome and bichrome hats are achieved by combining “front” and “back” faces of the knot, according to the motif desired. In contrast, the designs on polychrome hats are made using up to nine different colors of yarn, with the knots always tied in the same direction and grouped by motifs or color fields.

Animation by: Carlos Silva