"The smell of wool and rain is our peace, and the voice of the mother is this image of the 'Cruz de Mayo.' " - Nicolás Aguilar Sayritupac, from "Los Aymaras somos eternos" ("We Aymaras are eternal").
This passage from the famous song "Los Aymaras somos eternos" sketches for us in a few lines the place of textiles in Andean culture. The "Cruz de Mayo" is a celebration related to the fertility of the land and agricultural production in Aymara culture.
The communities we work with at Meune inspire and honor us by allowing us to work with them and use their creations as our own.
This article is dedicated to those who wish to understand why it is fundamental and necessary to be interested in the culture of indigenous peoples more than ever today. Bringing together the culture and knowledge of the Andean ancestral wisdom with the rest of the world to find answers to the challenges of modernity is one of the main commitments we make with Meune.
ANDEAN CULTURE AND TRADITIONS
To illustrate the importance we give to the use of handmade textiles by indigenous communities in Argentina for our creations at Meune, it is important to talk about their culture and traditions.
I am referring here to all the indigenous communities in Argentina and the Andean region to tell you about some aspects of their culture that they share, as obviously the traditions of each community are different.
These communities have universal concerns, the most powerful of which is to order the chaos, times and cosmic and real spaces: so that human beings can live in harmony with nature and raise their children in a safe and sheltered place. They seek to live in balance with nature, like their ancestors. They understand themselves as part of nature and in no way do they consider themselves as "masters" of the universe, as some religions or Western practices suggest. For the life of these peoples, the human, the natural and the spiritual complement each other harmoniously, leading them to find the "good living."
These peoples conceive the world and nature as a space where animals, plants, spirits, rivers, humans, and positive and negative forces of nature coexist and depend on each other in a global, holistic, and systemic way. They are committed to defending life, not just their own lives, but also the lives of species, even the smallest living beings, because they all respond to the same chain of life. In so-called "developed" countries, there is more of a predatory and destructive approach to development.
The communities have a unique approach to social bonds. This community bond is based on reciprocal exchanges of goods and services at all levels of social organization, making these exchanges as relevant and determining as language, religion, or territory.
In most communities, especially among the Mapuches today, women play a major role in preserving and transmitting this nature, history, and ancestral culture. Women, weavers or goldsmiths, tell their story of resistance and the primordial connection with the land that their people maintain through their art. As guardians of ancestral know-how, they pass on to new generations not only their textile or goldsmithing skills, but also their advanced knowledge of the natural environment that provides the necessary raw materials for creations: wool, fruits, leaves, and flowers used for dyes seal a fruitful and sacred cooperation with "Mother Earth".
For Meune, Nature, Handicrafts and Women, as the centerpiece of this natural and cultural anchorage, are at the heart of our concerns and commitments.
THE ANCESTRAL ANDEAN TEXTILE
Let's go back to basics: Ancestral textile is a structure composed of warp and weft threads to which weavers give symbolic content through inherited figures that come from far away.
Their textile is a structure created to shelter, transport materials and elements for rituals during a journey; to provide softness to the backs of mules and horses, to the floors of homes and to make colorful and welcoming walls; as well as to dress their leaders and members. In Andean ancestral weaving, each knit has a particular and unique story, like the hands of the weaver. However, considered as a whole, they constitute the narrative framework of their history. With each thread they weave, knot, embroider or braid, they construct a story that speaks of themselves, but also of the human being in all its complexity.
A story that invites us to reflect on who we were and who we are.
The use of textiles is always ritual, even in our time. That is why it is important when they pass from hand to hand, as they become family and community heritage. They are woven with love. The return to the issues of the earth that our time proposes challenges us to learn and understand their culture and symbology that has inspired and still inspires the world. And this is so that their creations are not just reproductions, but conscious and profound creations that invite us to rethink our place in the world and the meaning we give to our lives.
This is what drives us to act with commitment on each piece we create with the communities: to convey a message, a powerful call for inevitable change in the world we live in.
Thus, it is crucial that artisanal weaving, which is an intrinsic part of their culture, can continue to live and inspire humanity through time.
But above all, this art must absolutely remain in the hands of the communities that hold this ancestral heritage. Firstly, because this art belongs to them, and because without them there would be no message, no story, no meaning, and no reason to exist.
As an Argentine and creator of Meune, as you already know, I am connected and share the worldview of the Andean indigenous peoples. I am convinced that mutual aid, harmony between human beings and with nature, as well as women, are imperative pillars for our existence, as well as for the challenges to come.
We look forward to hearing from you, we need you!
Written and translated by Nahir, founder of Meune.
ce texte et cette pratique sont très inspirant.e Je suis fille de tisserande de arrière grand-mère en fille. nous sommes un jeune peuple et avons vécus la déportation des acadiens pourchassé par les anglais dans l’Acadie (Bas Canada). Mais nous n’avons jamais cessé de tisser. Merci pour ce merveilleux texte