Threads of Time: Tradition and Change in Indigenous American Textiles

Contemporary Wall Hanging/Table Runner



Contemporary Wall Hanging/Table Runner


Beginning in the mid-20th century, Western tourists and art dealers began to arrive in Perú and Bolivia and were struck by the quality of the historic heirloom textiles still in use. As these textiles began to appear on the art market, the artistry of the Andean weaving tradition drew international recognition. Western buyers preferred to buy older textiles because they were seen as more true to the indigenous culture. However, the contemporary traditions of the Jalq’a and Tarabuco communities in south central Bolivia rival older pieces with their imaginative figural imagery and intricate details. The Jalq’a weaving tradition has changed in response to outside demand, becoming more technically complicated as weavers include more of these figures to make pieces more attractive to buyers.

Weavers from both communities belong to the Indigenous Textile Art Renaissance Program, which began in 1986. Today this program includes more than eight hundred women weavers organized in seventeen communal workshops. This piece was woven by a member named Ramona from the Jalq’a town of Potolo. She produced the piece for sale; however, it contains the types of images woven in traditional garments. These bird and animal figures represent beings from Ukhu Pacha or the Inner World, which is considered to be a creative realm that supports our world.

To see the weaver of this textile, Ramona Contreras, describe her weaving, please view the video taken by Shelley Burian.


Ramona (Aymara)

Geographic Area

South America, Bolivia, Departments of Potosí and
Chuquisaca, Provinces of Chayanta and Oropeza, Jalq’a, Potolo


21st century


Sheep’s wool

Credit Line

Purchased from the artist with the assistance of the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship

Accession Number


Photo Credit

Photo by Michael McKelvey, 2017

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