The Department of Potosí is famous for its mineral resources, but it is one of the poorest in Bolivia. Its inhabitants live in very precarious conditions. El Molino is a parish center in this department that includes 30 of the poorest communities in the world. It is a region at 4000 masl with hostile weather conditions, a lack of good roads and communication media.
The region is organized into ayllus (a type of Andean community) and still has vestiges of the Quechua and Aymara cultures, which is why the rural training center called El Molina quite successfully promotes the recovery of local forms of expression, including the textile arts.
ArteNativo is one of the associations of hundreds of rural artisan women that is getting by in the city of Potosí, earning its income with hand spinning and knitting or weaving the fine wool from their sheep, llamas and alpacas. This work also enables them to improve their household (very poor) income, increase the value of their culture and raise their self-esteem.
This association is intended as a world showcase of this ancient art, enabling them to present their culture through their work (the fabrics) and sell their products in a fair market context.
This group of rural women is trained in 24 community artisan workshops that bring together 600 artisans. Product manufacture is distributed based on each community's specialty (with llama, alpaca and sheep wool). For example, the Turqui community makes exquisite llama wool ponchos because of their ability with the horizontal loom.
Besides weaving the garments, they raise and care for the livestock, collect, select, untangle, sun dry, spin and dye the fibers (using colors derived from plants, roots, flowers and insects in the region), which makes each garment an ecological product.
Using horizontal, vertical, mechanical/hand or traditional (pampa awuay) looms, these rural women make products that must meet strict quality standards imposed by their association. Quality control is carried out at the El Molino rural training center.
An ArteNativo garment not only helps solve the poverty situation that affects this Andean population but also is a garment that is friendly to the plant since it is made from beginning to end with respect for the environment and with care and dedication.
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