The cosmology of the highland Andean people is best understood through their textiles. Weaving, their primary mode of artistic expression, brings them closer to the sacred fibers of life. In their belief system, no separation exists between themselves and the natural world. So their cultural identity is manifested in creating their textiles, and, more specifically, their garments.
It was within their textiles that religious and social views were inscribed, given that Pre-Columbian Andeans had no written language. The symbols embedded in traditional textile patterns - their specific weaving style - can be very subtle. Indeed, they are often understood exclusively by shamans and healers.
Onikas Fun Fact: According to Incan Legend, Mama Ocllo , the Inca goddess of fertility and spinning, taught the Andean people how to dress, spin and weave garments. Dona Ana, our head weaver, imbues her garments with Mama Ocllo’s same regal soul and spirit. We are honored to bring you her incredible wares.
These 'culture-into-cloth' weaving traditions continue today. We witnessed this firsthand when we met Dona Ana, the matriarch of textile production in Ecuador's Imbabura province. This elegant 72 year-old wise woman (pictured below) is a renown community healer and runs the weaver’s cooperative that makes our wares. During our last visit, she literally wove in a lesson about medicinal herbs as she educated us about traditional looms. She quietly demonstrated how plants and health -- like man and nature -- exist in the same sacred realm and are woven into the same gorgeous textile. The Onikas are honored to work with her master weavers for our 2016 Condor Collection.
Photo Credits: Cecilia Vallejo