Skip the navigation
 

The Macroscopic World

High Plains

Skirt Zoomify

High plateau regions, like those in central South America and Tibet, are flanked by mountain peaks that are difficult to access and in effect, isolate their inhabitants. These regions have long sheltered societies of people who, while very different, share a sense of independence born of the ability to prosper in extreme conditions.

About the Object

Object name: Skirt (aksu)
Place made: Potolo, Chuquisaca, Bolivia
People: Jalq’a
Date made: 1987-1999
Dimensions: 63 x 43.5 cm
Materials & Techniques: Wool, warp-faced, complementary warp
Credit line: Gift of Declan Hill
ID: T00.14.2a

Jalq’a women weave skirts such as this aksu, which they wear arranged to the front, back or side and over another skirt. Aksu are woven using a dark, intensely figurative style which features mythical creatures called khurus. An ASUR tag identifies this aksu as a product of the ASUR cooperative.

Alternative Views

Back

Back

Oblique

Oblique

Note: clicking a thumbnail image will open a high-resolution version.

Second Look

Macro

Macro

Note: clicking a thumbnail image will open a high-resolution version.

Touchpoint View

Animation

You must enable javascript and have Flash Player 9 installed to view this content.

Note: clicking a link will load a movie into a media player.

Image

The Highland Region

The altiplano, or “high plain” in Spanish, is located in central South America where the Andes mountains are at their widest; it is the most extensive area of high plateau on earth outside of Tibet. Aridity and extreme temperatures make the altiplano a challenging place to call home; yet, it is home to a diverse variety of creatures. Indigenous inhabitants, such as the Jalq’a people, have used backstrap looms for millennia to weave the hair of llama and other roaming camelids into cloth for use as warm, sturdy garments. In the hot, humid Amazon rainforest to the east of the altiplano, such garments would be completely unsuitable.

The Altiplano in Bolivia

The Highland Region

Image title: The Altiplano in Bolivia
Credit: Image Courtesy of Phil Marion

Note: clicking a thumbnail image will open a high-resolution version.

Slide Show

ASUR

ASUR (antropólogos del surandino), located in the southern Andes of Bolivia, is a foundation that carries out weaving projects among indigenous peasants. The success of ASUR, and projects such as the Jalq'a-Tarabuco textile program, rests in the combination of income generation with development of aesthetic creativity. All ASUR-tagged textiles are sold in the ethnographic textile museum shop in Sucre, Bolivia. Sixty per cent of the total sales are paid to the individual weaver, another portion covers the raw materials, taxes and other overhead, and a small part pays for training young weavers in the traditional crafts.

Macro

ASUR

Image title: Macro

Women at the textile art museum in Sucre, Bolivia

ASUR

Image title: Women at the textile art museum in Sucre, Bolivia
Credit: Image Courtesy of Ana Isabel Ramos

Note: clicking a thumbnail image will open a high-resolution version.

Audio Clip

Khurus

Listen to TMC curator Roxane Shaughnessy talk about the khurus in this aksu. View the high contrast image to see the khurus more clearly.

Credit: Audio Produced by TMC

You must enable javascript and have Flash Player 9 installed to view this content.

Related Image

Khurus

Khurus

Image title: Khurus

Note: clicking a thumbnail image will open a high-resolution version.

Transcript

An aksu made by the Jalq’a depicts the world of the ukhu pacha, a sacred place inside the earth where there is little contrast between light and dark. At the turn of the century, decorated areas of weaving were separated with solid coloured bands. The increase in the use of the whole field for pattern areas in recent years, such as this example, allowed the fluorescence of ideas which are expressed in the design, such as chaos and disorder, which fills the space. The disorder is realized through the lack of reference points, or absence of symmetry. Also, the way figures are not oriented toward any horizon. They are facing up and down and sideways. Such scenes are seemingly without light, as the Jalq'a attempt to represent a world ruled by the supay – the inspirational deity of Jalq'a designs. In this textile, and other similar ones, the scenes are populated by khurus: strange creatures that are undifferentiated by gender or species, and often portrayed as pregnant, with offspring that are completely different creatures. Landscapes of these grotesque khurus, which customarily inspire fear in the Jalq’a, are expressed and contained through the weaving of the aksu.

Collection Connections

Note: links will open in new browser windows.

Overskirt

Overskirt

ID*: T94.0945

Backstrap loom

Backstrap loom

ID*: T00.14.1

Coca bag

Coca bag

ID*: T83.0244