Handwoven Q'ero Chumpi Belt

We are honored to partner with the indigenous Q’ero in Peru to bring you some of the most powerful textile weavings in the world!  

The Q’ero are descendants of the ancient Incas and their medicine people, known as “Paqos,” still use their hands to craft their story telling textiles.  

By weaving these beautiful and meaningful stories, these medicine men and women are preserving and sharing their healing knowledge, beliefs and traditions. Their main philosophy is “Ayni”, which means reciprocity and include balance and harmony with the Earth and with each other.

Traditionally a chumpi (belt) not only referred to the woven yarns of a garment used to cinch clothing around the waist, in Andean mysticism, this term also referred to the belts of living energy that surrounded the human body to make up the human ‘bubble’ or energy field. 

The belts slightly vary in dimensions as each in handmade.
They are between 3 1/2 and 5 inches wide and 52 to 60 inches long. 

We only have 1 of each of these styles. It takes several weeks to make them, reach out with any special color preferences and we can order them.

Maestra Doña Marquesa Apaza, daughter of Master Don Alejandro Apaza (both from the Apaza family lineage and founders of the Inca Medicine School) is a master weaver, creating the sacred handmade textiles that the Q'ero are well known for. 

These items are:

  • All handmade

  • Permission is asked and a proper ceremony conducted for the llamas/alpacas in the community of Kiko high up in the Andes, before any material is collected (read more below)

  • A special ceremony to infuse the weavings with the energy of the mountains and nature is always held to make these items sacred (they are blessed, prayed over, etc in a traditional Q'ero way)

  • These weavings help support Maestra Doña Marquesa Apaza and her family, especially in these testing times for the Andean people

  • Ordering these sacred items help preserve the sacred teachings of the Q'ero, the heritage of the master weavers, and the sacred patterns that have been woven for thousands of years, and give back to the communities that are doing so much for the healing of our planet

The sacred, arduous, and lengthy production process

The process begins in spring with a carnival celebration to call in protection for the newly born baby llamas and alpacas. This is a colourful celebration with flowers, the baby animals are named, there is a celebration and ceremony for them to be strong and survive and live long healthy, and happy lives.

When it is time for the first wool shearing permission is asked, sacred offerings made and the Q'ero ask Pachamama (Mother Earth) and the mountains to protect the animals. Although shearing is needed, it is cold in the mountains and the first shearing can be risky. After the shearing, the wool is washed with a fruit that works like a natural detergent.

Thread for weaving is made, tools created - these are all natural, e.g. sticks or bones from llamas or condors (seen as especially good energy for these sacred weavings) that have passed on (please note: these animals are sacred to the Q'ero and are not harmed. Even the pucucho baby llama bag that is the most sacred tool of the paqo 'shaman' is not from animals that have been slaughtered simply to become a bag, but rather taken care of after naturally passing away. Everything in this tradition is done with sacred reciprocity known as 'ayni' and deep respect for every living being (and to the medicine people everything is alive!)

A lot of the colours are the natural colours of the wool - various shades of brown, black, white etc. The stronger colours are also from natural sources e.g. seeds from plants that stain the wool and salt that makes the colours stick. Everything is natural and no chemical dyes or similar are used. The now coloured wool is then washed once again.

Then begins the arduous and lengthy task of weaving. First of all, an offering is made to Pachamama (Mother Earth), permission to weave in that specific space is requested and ceremony is held (especially if a lot of products are to be made.) Then sticks are placed on the floor where the weaving takes place.

Maestra Doña Marquesa Apaza explains that this is such hard work that sometimes she feels like she cannot continue. At this point, she calls in Pachamama (Mother Earth) to 'take her place' and essentially 'use her body' to finish the hard work.

This process, from the ceremony for the newborn llamas to the arduous backbreaking task of creating the weavings, is part of the sacred process that goes into creating the items you order. By supporting the traditional way of weaving you help make sure this tradition remains sacred and is not replaced by short-cuts, chemicals or mass production in a factory.

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