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Indigenous women in Bolivian preserve ancestral knowledge by weaving

By Yolanda Salazar

La Paz, Aug 10 (EFE).- The ancestral knowledge of Bolivia’s Tacana people is transmitted not only through books, but through the elaborate fabrics woven by women to illustrate the relationship with nature and as a form of resistance to the deterioration of their environment.

Weavers from the Indigenous Council of Tacana Women have come to the International Book Fair in La Paz to display their creative process.

“We are demonstrating that it is not only what is written that counts, but we also demonstrate through our fabrics our values, our sentiments,” weaver Claribel Marupa tells EFE.

Fabric designs often include the footprints of creatures that have practical or symbolic significance to the Tacana, such as jaguars, tortoises, scorpions, and even dogs.

The scorpion represents the idea of “vigorous work” and “never surrendering,” while the presence of dogs, who accompany the Tacana in their daily tasks, reflects the importance of living in harmony with nature, Marupa says.

Kasandra Lurisi, 19, who was taught to weave by her mother and grandmother, views the fabrics as a way of keeping “ancient memories” alive.

“Learning our weaving is to love our people and carry forward forever what we know through what we do,” she tells EFE. “And in my case it has been an honor to learn this.”

Weaving is likewise a way of responding to the pollution – mostly from mining – that is poisoning the rivers in Tacana territory and killing the fish they rely on for sustenance.

“We have seen it (weaving) as a support, as a sustainable enterprise where we can conserve and appropriate what is ours so as not to lose our culture as Tacanas,” weaver Fulvia Medina says.

The project enjoys backing from Conservation International, whose Juliana Ewert told EFE that the organization is helping the weavers put together a business plan to market their fabrics in the United States and other countries.

EFE ysm/dr

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