The Dancing Shaman
Chloe Beaumont-Field

Back in late 2009 while exploring the communities in Jujuy and Salta, I soon discovered that there were treasure houses of beautiful textiles which were without a market in the outside world. Due to their isolation, few people know of the existence of these Kolla communities such as Susques, nor of their ability to weave on simple handlooms such exquisite llama textiles. Even visiting tourists never get to see such items as their guides have no interest in bringing them into places where the artisans are too poor to pay a commission for their services.

Consequently, I resolved that one day I would return to see whether I could provide a means for these people to access and sell their creations in a market that reached the world.

The Weavers
In September 2011, I ventured back to communities nestling in the ravines and on the mountainsides of the Andes in Northern Argentina. This time I wanted to establish connections and begin to develop relationships with individual artisans who wanted to supply me with their llama textile creations; textiles specifically to enhance the home. 

I met Norma Calpanchay in Susques, a small very isolated pueblo about 4,000 metres a.s.l. and just a few kilometres from the border with Chile. As she is young and has an email address, she is the spokesperson for all the women that weave in this town. She introduced me to Rosa and to Gil. Gil loves to weave rugs and wants to supply me with rugs on a regular basis. As her rugs sell and our relationship matures, her confidence in my ability to market her rugs will grow. It is only a matter of time before her rugs will be packed and placed on the buses that travel down the mountainside from Susques, and connect her home province of Jujuy to Buenos Aires and to the world market.

In the open market in the plaza of the thriving town of Humahuaca, Jujuy, I met Silvia Mamani. She has plenty of antique hardwearing rugs to sell and is eager for me to market them for her. They are quite unique and exotic in appearance.  

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