Peruvian Pebble Weave

In November there was Tinkuy de Tejedores (a gathering of weavers) in Peru. I would love to have gone, but it was not in the cards. Several people I know and/or have met from Guatemala, Bolivia, El Salvador, Chile and Peru, as well as the U.S., were going to be there. But more than that. The pre-Columbian weaving that is still being done in the highlands of Peru is incredible. No one should ever underestimate the ancestors.

Trying to learn a little about this weaving, I found an article by Doramay Keasbey in a Handwoven magazine from January/February 2000 that explained how to do Peruvian pebble weave on a floor loom (instead of the backstrap loom commonly used by Peruvian weavers). I put on a long warp and started weaving bookmarks.

I used the designs from the article and then branched out to try other possibilities. The bottom bookmark is from a Chinese lattice design. Lattices made from wood were used in window openings in China for many years and have been documented in a book I acquired some years ago. I also found a pre-Columbian Inca design, which is seen in the bookmark on the left.

Intrigued by this complex pick-up weave, I came across a recent publication by Laverne Waddington, a woman who lives in Bolivia with whom I had earlier corresponded about the ergonomic benches for backstrap weavers being developed by Synergo Arts. Laverne, who is from Australia, is a teacher of English and weaving who is doing an incredible job of learning, documenting, and teaching indigenous backstrap weaving. She has recently published an e-book through Weavezine on Andean Pebble Weave.

I think I see a backstrap loom in my future and further exploration of this and other pick up weaves. I just received the most recent Handwoven magazine (January/February 2011) with articles by both Doramay and Laverne on pick up weaves. Too much to do, too little time!

One thought on “Peruvian Pebble Weave

  1. Anne says:

    In an email exchange with Laverne, I learned the following information. Stay tuned. I have a lot to learn.

    There is a bit of a problem with this term “pebble” weave which tends to get used for any kind of structure that has little spots in it anywhere in the world. I was anxious to find out who first used this name and to which structure it applied because I really did not want to mislead people when I was talking about pebble weave in my blog or book. At the tinkuy I asked Anne Rowe and she told me that authors Marjorie Cason and Adele Cahlander first used it in the mid 70’s and that it applies to the Andean technique that I describe in my book. Anne Rowe also describes this structure in her book on warp patterened weaves but she uses a far more long winded technical description.

    So, I hope that you won’t be disappointed to find that what I teach in my book is not what was taught in Handwoven. The structure taught by Doramay is not anything I have seen anywhere in Peru – I haven’t, of course, been everywhere in Peru! I have a Mexican belt that has a similar pattern structure. What I teach in my book is woven in the Ayacucho/Huancayo/Huancavelica area and possibly in others as well. It is also used in many places here in Bolivia and by Guarani weavers right here in my home Santa Cruz in the lowlands. Laverne Waddington

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