If you have ever traveled to Peru, Bolivia, Chile, or Argentina, you will have seen more than one woman from the Andes using these colorful blankets with a lot of tradition and history. This textile piece is called aguayo, a rectangular piece of colored wool. Women wear it to complement their clothing, to carry children or things.
If you look closely at its design, you can see in most of them three well-defined blocks that are the edge or “t’irja” from where the blanket is tied. Then there is “pampa” or the flat part, which is of a specific color. And finally, “salta” or the part with patterns of figures. Aguayo can be made in various colors and patterns, but each color has a special meaning. The colors can indicate where it comes from and, in other cases, the use given for everyday use, festivities, or certain activities such as picking and carrying potatoes.
In Peru, it is mainly known as lliclla and is more associated with a female garment. As we have already seen with other handcrafted pieces, the tourism boom and the interest in these handicrafts, make new ideas come to delight the tourist. It is how industrially manufactured aguayos can also be found. It maintains the design; they are more colorful, but the fabric is much thinner and is not made with wool. That is, it does not preserve the tradition of this textile piece. I must accept that the two aguayos I have at home are of this type.
In which products can we find these textiles?
Now that we know a little more about the aguayo and its history, we can see how this beautiful blanket of colors has been introduced into the houses. The aguayo is used for what it is, a blanket, but its colorful fabric has also been used to cover pieces of bohemian-style furniture. Chairs, cushions, poufs, and even its beautiful fabric are used for other decorative pieces such as pots. I can think of a thousand more ideas.
Ideal for lovers of bohemian style, don’t you think?
Arnold, Denise Y. El textil y la documentación del tributo en los Andes: Los significados del tejido en contextos tributarios. La Paz, 2019.