Weaving and Dyeing in Highland Ecuador

Weaving and Dyeing in Highland Ecuador

ANN POLLARD ROWE
LAURA M. MILLER
LYNN A. MEISCH
EDITED BY ANN POLLARD ROWE
Copyright Date: 2007
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7560/714687
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Weaving and Dyeing in Highland Ecuador
    Book Description:

    Although less well known than its much-admired counterparts in Peru and Bolivia, highland Ecuadorian weaving is an Andean tradition that has relationships with these more southern areas. A world away from the industrialized textile manufacturing of Euro-American society, these handmade pieces reflect the history and artistry of an ancient culture.

    This comprehensive study, edited by Ann Pollard Rowe, is unrivaled in its detail and includes not only descriptions of the indigenous weaving and dyeing technology, but also an interpretation of its historical significance, as well as hundreds of photographs, drawings, and maps that inform the understanding of the process.

    The principal focus is on backstrap-loom weaving, a major pre-Hispanic technology. Ecuadorian backstrap looms, which differ in various ways from those found elsewhere in the Andes, have previously only been treated in general terms. Here, the basic operation of this style of loom is covered, as are a variety of patterning techniques including warp-resist (ikat) dyeing, weaving belts with twill, and supplementary- and complementary-warp patterning. Spanish colonial treadle-loom weaving is also covered. The weaving techniques are explained in detail, so the reader can replicate them if desired.

    Textiles have been an important art form among Andean peoples from remote prehistory up to the present. A greater understanding of their creation process can yield a more meaningful appreciation of the art itself.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-79547-1
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-xii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xix-xxiii)
    Ann P. Rowe
  5. [Illustrations]
    (pp. xxiv-xxxii)
  6. Introduction: The Land and the People
    (pp. 1-12)
    ANN P. ROWE and LYNN A. MEISCH

    Ecuador, a country the size of Oregon or Colorado, has ecological zones ranging from mangrove swamps and dense tropical rain forests to temperate valleys and snow-capped mountains. There are three main geographic divisions (see Map 1): the Pacific coastal lowlands; the Andes mountains, forming a north-south spine through the country; and the lowland Amazon basin rain forests to the east, usually referred to in Ecuador as the Oriente (East). The coastal lowlands are broader and the Andean highlands narrower than in Peru, Ecuador’s southern neighbor.

    The coastal zone of Ecuador also forms a marked ecological contrast with that of Peru....

  7. CHAPTER 1 Plain Weave on the Backstrap Loom
    (pp. 13-52)
    ANN P. ROWE and LAURA M. MILLER

    The backstrap loom is of pre-Hispanic origin and, at the time of our fieldwork, was still used throughout much of highland Ecuador to produce the most beautiful and distinctive garments. A vertical loom is used in the northern province of Carchi, a tradition that continues into highland Colombia, and belts are woven on a vertical loom in the Natabuela area of northern Imbabura province. The Carchi loom is described at the end of this chapter, while the Natabuela belt loom is described in Chapter 4. The following text describes general methods of backstrap-loom weaving in the rest of highland Ecuador,...

  8. CHAPTER 2 Warp-Resist-Patterned Wool Ponchos and Blankets
    (pp. 53-75)
    ANN P. ROWE, LYNN A. MEISCH and LAURA M. MILLER

    Although the wool ponchos and blankets described in this chapter have relatively simple patterns, the weavers use an ingenious technique likely to be indigenous, despite the fact that they do not identify themselves as indigenous. These textiles also have a widely scattered distribution, although the technique and finished products are similar.

    In yarn-resist dyeing, selected areas of the yarns are protected from the dye by applying a liquid resist material or by compressing the selected areas with either binding or clamping. In Ecuador, only warp-resist dyeing is done (no weft-resist) and the technique used is binding. That is, after warping,...

  9. CHAPTER 3 Warp-Resist-Patterned Cotton Shawls and Ponchos
    (pp. 76-106)
    ANN P. ROWE and LAURA M. MILLER

    Among the most striking and beautiful textiles in Ecuador are the bound-warp-resist and indigo-dyed cotton shawls with knotted fringe that are made in Rumipamba de las Rosas near Salcedo in Cotopaxi province (Map 3), and in Bulcay el Carmen and Bulshun (pronounced Bulzhun) near Gualaceo in Azuay province (Map 5). Formerly, similar shawls were made in Quichinche, San Juan (on the northern outskirts of the town of Otavalo), and Quiroga in Imbabura province (Map 2) (Jaramillo 1988b: 167–170; idem 1991: 42, 45–46; Pfyffer 2002: 211–212), but this production seems to have died out in the mid-twentieth century....

  10. CHAPTER 4 Belts with Supplementary-Warp Patterning
    (pp. 107-155)
    ANN P. ROWE, LAURA M. MILLER and LYNN A. MEISCH

    It is startling how similar the belts woven with supplementary-warp patterning are throughout highland Ecuador, not only in their structure but also in color and design motifs. Indeed, this type of belt is one of the unifying elements of highland Ecuadorian weaving. Yet, we found the number of different techniques employed to produce them equally remarkable. It certainly appears that weavers in each area improvised their own methods to create a similar finished product.

    These belts are woven in Carchi, Imbabura, Cotopaxi, Tungurahua, Chimborazo, and Loja provinces and before 1950 were also produced in Pichincha province (Stübel and Reiss 1888:...

  11. CHAPTER 5 Turn-Banded 2/1 Twill Belts
    (pp. 156-174)
    ANN P. ROWE and LAURA M. MILLER

    One belt structure with definite pre-Hispanic roots and found in several areas of highland Ecuador in different variations has a horizontally banded appearance (Figs. 5.1–5.2). Typically, white (often cotton) lines alternate with one or two other colors that form warp floats, formerly of wool but by the 1980s usually acrylic. Unlike the supplementary-warp patterned belts, which have two white yarns for each colored one, these belts have two colored yarns for each white one. One of the colored yarns floats on one face of the fabric while the other floats on the opposite face. The weft is usually white....

  12. CHAPTER 6 2/1 Herringbone Complementary-Warp Weave Ponchos of the Otavalo Area, Imbabura Province
    (pp. 175-184)
    ANN P. ROWE

    One style of poncho made in the Otavalo area is unusual in that it is a different color on each face, for example, light blue on one side and dark blue on the other, or blue and gray, or red and blue (Fig. 6.1). Sometimes, one face of the poncho is striped while the other is solid color (Pl. 3); rarely, one face is plaid (A. Rowe [ed.] 1998: pl. VIIIA). Since the ponchos are relatively large, they are often worn with one or both sides folded back on the shoulders, so that both colors are visible (Fig. 6.1). Although...

  13. CHAPTER 7 3/1 Alternating Complementary-Warp Weave Belts
    (pp. 185-216)
    ANN P. ROWE and LAURA M. MILLER

    There are three distinct complementary-warp patterned belt styles in Ecuador, all made on the backstrap loom but each with different technical characteristics that, in turn, reflect a different historical context.¹ A consideration of their technical characteristics thus contributes significantly to our understanding of their origin. Two of the belt styles can be shown to have been introduced as a result of the Inca conquest, one by the Incas themselves and one by a group ofmitimas, or colonists, while the third is probably a local indigenous development.

    As with the structure of the ponchos discussed in Chapter 6, there are...

  14. CHAPTER 8 Treadle-Loom Weaving
    (pp. 217-250)
    ANN P. ROWE, LAURA M. MILLER, LYNN A. MEISCH and RUDI COLLOREDO-MANSFIELD

    The treadle loom operates under principles quite different from those of indigenous Andean looms (Figs. 8.1 and 8.2). The use of foot treadles to operate the shed-changing mechanism probably originated in China, spreading first to the Middle East, and then to Europe around the eleventh or twelfth centuries (Hoffman 1979). As introduced into Europe, treadle looms were used for production weaving on a commercial basis by professional male weavers, and the same is true of its introduction into the Americas.

    The treadle loom is associated with professional production weaving because it is much faster to operate than a loom with...

  15. CHAPTER 9 Natural Dyeing Techniques
    (pp. 251-277)
    ANN P. ROWE, LYNN A. MEISCH and LAURA M. MILLER

    Brightly colored textiles have a nearly universal appeal, and the lore of dyeing, with its often sophisticated chemistry, has therefore been important throughout history to both art and commerce. Until the mid-nineteenth century, dyes were derived from natural materials, primarily plants, but also certain animals and minerals.

    It is much easier to dye protein (animal) fibers, such as wool, camelid hair, and silk, with natural materials than it is to dye cellulose (plant) fibers such as cotton, linen, or the leaf fibers. Consequently, if a society has access to both, usually the animal fibers are dyed while the plant fibers...

  16. Conclusions
    (pp. 278-280)
    ANN P. ROWE

    Of course, one of the fascinations of studying the surviving technological tradition of the indigenous people of the Andes is its inherent conservatism. Basic techniques such as hand-supported spinning and backstrap-loom weaving have survived largely intact from pre-Hispanic times and are therefore a window on the past. Although, regrettably, few pre-Hispanic textiles have survived in the Ecuadorian highlands, so that fewer links can be securely made than would otherwise be the case, some technologies we recorded are unquestionably indigenous. To those noted above can presumably be added looping withchawar, dyeing cochineal with the help of local plants, and baskets...

  17. Notes
    (pp. 281-288)
  18. Glossary
    (pp. 289-296)
  19. References Cited
    (pp. 297-310)
  20. Contributors
    (pp. 311-312)
  21. Index
    (pp. 313-327)