Master Weaver Wilber Quispe Huaman
The inspiration for Wilber’s textiles has always been to create designs rooted in his own rich Andean culture and traditions, handed down from his Ancestors. Since the beginning of his artistic journey, Wilber’s idea has been to share his life experience and artistic knowledge – the true spirit of the Andes - with other artists and creative communities. Now, with Woven Tuna, this dream comes to life.
Wilber was born in the tiny village of Paccha, outside of Huamanga, Ayacucho, in the Peruvian Andes. Although poor, he grew up surrounded by the beauty of the natural world in a loving community. As a child, he worked with his parents, helping in the chakra (fields) with planting and harvesting and shepherding the sheep and goats. There were many challenges in his early life. Among these, when Senderismo arrived in the area, Wilber moved to the city of Huamanga and learned to weave, with his brother Charly.
As a young weaver, Wilber excelled. He formed his own weaving workshop at the age of 17, and won his first national prize at the age of 21. Since then, Wilber has mastered his craft, designing and weaving fine tapestries, and also dyeing all of his wool by hand. Today, Wilber brings his deep knowledge of weaving to you!
Brilliant Textile Designer
Wilber has a lifetime of textile design experience, transforming a wide range of ideas and weaving styles into woven masterpieces. Here Wilber stands with one of his original designs, ‘El Niño Perdido’ (The Lost Child), that originates from his childhood experience, living in the Peruvian jungle. This design has been very well received, and versions of it hang in several public locations in the United States – hospital, museums, monastery – as well as in private homes.
The tejidos expeciales (special tapestries) of Wilber Quispe are inspired by his deepest memories – his soul transformed into his art.
Artisan in Plant Based Dyes
Incredible artistry in Hand Dyeing
In this photo, you can see Wilber's traditional dyeing technique, over a wood fire, in this case producing a deep green using the leaves of the Muelle tree that grows natively in Ayacucho. Throughout his work, he maintains the traditional dyeing technique using native plants, leaves, and roots and the insect cochineal, that has been handed down from his Andean ancestors. He produces brilliant colors come from a variety of native Andean materials, and he is also a master of combining plant materials to make other colors that don’t occur on their own.
House of the Chosen Ones
A depiction of the archaeological site of the huge ancient Wari city outside of Huamanga, in Ayacucho. In the background is the hillside full of tuna (prickly pear) plants, in front of the wall that surrounds the Wari city, located in a strategic plateau in the foothills of the Andes.
The Acllahuasi was the ceremonial circle where young Incan women were given their life paths such withing the temple (Aclla). In front of the special seats where the selection committee sat, Wilber has placed a pushka with yarn trailing from it. The pushka is still used today in the Andes for spinning sheep or llama wool into fine handspun yarn, as some of the women who arrived at the Acllahuasi would be chosen to become revered textile artisans.
Wilber created and wove this design to recognize the inception of our business, Woven Tuna, highlighting the tuna plant that is cultivated throughout Ayacucho.
Sacred Offering Cloth
Manto de Ofrenda
The Manto de Ofrenda symbolizes the offering of gratitude that is central to Andean culture. In this tapestry, you see different offerings of sacred Andean foods: quinoa, uca and paillar.
In traditional Andean culture, offerings were made to the PachaMama (Mother Earth in Quechua) and also to the Apus (Nature Spirits), to the sun and to the moon. Each spirit gives their blessing for a different facet of natural life.
The Jungle Kingdom
El Reino Selvatico
The Jungle Kingdom is a fanciful portrayal of animal life that the artist came to know during a five-year period of his childhood when he lived in the Peruvian jungle.
There is the sense is of the hierarchy of life, with the resolute crocodile seated at the bottom, holding up the commonplace bull frog, along with two playful lizards; above them is a snake who happens to have two snake-eating birds resting atop him, then a playful tapir, and at the pinnacle a chicken, who is in reality the snake’s food. The animals coexist within their ecosystem, joyfully accepting the inevitability life, predator or prey, eating - or being eaten.
Incan Cross of the Four Seasons
Chakana de las Cuatro Estaciones
The Incan Cross, translated as Chakana in Quechua, is a symbol that has many been given many meanings, none definitive. In this fine weaving, Wilber combines imagery powerful to Andean culture and sense of place. At the base of the weaving he depicts the fields, with the estrella de la amanecer (morning star), and sucho (Harvest star). There are the Moon and the Sun, the coca leaf that is integral to Andean culture, and grains after the harvest, as well as the falling rain,
At the heart of the weaving is the spirit of the PachaMama (Mother Earth) portrayed as a lake surrounded by the shore and encircled by a serpent. All of this is superimposed on a starry night sky.
This gorgeous tapestry uses briliantly colored yarn, dyed by Wilber to match the vibrancy of the symbolism. Earlier this year Wilber designed a series of chakanas, in a variety of patterns and colors.
The abundance of the harvest. This tapestry represents the fields of a small farm, with fields of quinoa, the leaves of the potato plan, corn and the place where the abundance of the harvest is stored.
This original work shows tremendous design savvy and originality, combining traditional symbolism with modern colors and styling.
The Fishing Bird
El Ave Pescador
The Ave Pescador in this tapestry represents any of a number of fishing birds that are found on the ocean shores of Peru – a pelican, say. In this stylized design, you see the fishing birds as well as small, luminescent fish, called borrachitos, that live near rocks on the Peruvian coast. Borrachitos are sometimes eaten in a healing soup in Peru, a traditional remedy for somebody who is suffering from headaches, low blood pressure or a chills.
After eating this soup, people feel intoxicated (borracho), and recover their health, after taking a refreshing nap.