Andean waist band embroidery
In Ecuador’s green foothills & windy highlands, indigenous women elaborate waist band or belt known as “chumbi”, in the Quichua language, or “faja” in Spanish. This intricately hand-woven belt beautifully represents the time-honored tradition of Quechua weaving in high Andean communities and is still commonly used today as part of everyday traditional dress.
The “chumbi” is part of a rich textile tradition which has persisted in the Andes for approximately 5,000 years. During Inca times, the belts were linked to nobility and elite.
The availability of llamas, alpacas, cotton and other natural fibers combined with predominantly cold weather, allowed the development of this art. Andean textiles, form the longest continuous textile record in world history and Andean weavers are known worldwide for their skills and rich traditions.
The belts are very laborious and contain symbolism in their designs. Featuring ancient Andean iconography that was created by carefully selecting each yarn row by row, the belts organically dyed using locally sourced plants. The waist bands vary from region to region and from weaver to weaver.
There are some weavers that own ancient samples from which they have drawn designs for contemporary belts. The date is unknown, but it’s evident that in each belt there is a collective wisdom and creativity passed down from generation to generation.
We work with communities of artisans in Cuenca, Ecuador.