In October 2018 we start planning for our first adventure with the purpose of finding the products we would present on our first collection. We were not surprised by what we found because, in every small town or city, we found many people on the way and even when we found our selves not finding any answer someone would point towards the right direction. We found remarkable artisans in the 12 places we visit and all were willing to share their skills and stories.
Tungurahua Volcano shot taken from the Salasaca Community.
Our first stop was the Salasaca Community, a small town that in 2018 was
declared an Intangible Cultural Heritage site in Ecuador by the country Assembly.
This community is settled between the cities of Ambato and Baños and as history tells they were brought from Bolivia by an Inca Ruler named Pachacutic (Yapangui II) in the 15th century. They are one of the most important Ecuadorian mitimae groups ruled by the Inca Emperors before the Spanish colonization. They speak Spanish and Quichua being the second the one inherited by the Incas and the most practiced.
Its main economic activities are agriculture, livestock, and crafts. One of their most remarkable crafts are the tapestries. This works of art often capture aspects of their lives or ancient symbology that relates to nature and their god Sun or "Inti". They are made of wool that comes from their own livestock and local farms. They usually use natural dyes like the cochinilla insect, tocte nut and ash for red, brown and gray colors.
Kuri Antonio Caisabanda showing how the wooden loom works
At this town we meat Kuri Antonio, his name comes full of meaning. Kuri means Gold in Quichua and he truly is a man that shines with his creations and imagination. Find more about his story and his family on our Partners page.
Their mythology is very interesting and as many of the Inca communities is centered in the god Inti and the symbolism of the Condor. Local stories tell that a Condor was flying near the Tungurahua Volcano and saw a Girl that was walking alone in the countryside, the big bird took her and as he fell in love with this union the first Salasaca was born.
This community is known to be one of the purest of the region as they are famous for having a surly and rebellious social behavior they don't like to mix with white people. The live in isolation deep in the mountains and, maintaining their traditions and customs very close. They see the Sun "Inti-yaya" like the father that gives life to everything that surrounds them and with the moon, Quilla-Mama, the Mother that nurtures live. The mountains, wild and domestic animals of their surroundings play an important role in their conception of the universe and that is reflected in their tapestries. In the early 1940s, a Catholic priest lived in Salasaca for several years and influenced their original believes.
Today, the Salasacas traditional beliefs are synchronized with Catholicism when they celebrate and performed ceremonies. They mix rituals of the church with their own.
Ancient wood loom used to knit their traditional clothing.