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The Amazing New Adventures of Larry and Mark - Peru, Land of the Incas

Chapter 14

 THE CRAFT AT AWANA KANCHA

Awanakancha isn't a zoo.  It's a living history museum to a way of life

which has existed in the Andes for 5,000 years. 

 

 

 

Native weavers from many families from diverse communities work

here, showing different styles of dress and weaving.

 

 

 The wool, mostly of alpaca and vicuņas, is harvested and subjected to

a natural dying process which has changed little in thousands of years.

 

 

Natural plant extracts have been used to color clothing (and bodies)

as long as humans have walked the earth, and probably longer.

Chapi- natural orange plant dye

Kinsacucho (kasacucho) natural green dye

Yanale bark creates a mustard yellow.

 

 

Most interesting are the grey specks in the brown mortar (shown above.)

These are the cochineal bugs.  Few non-native travelers know that a tiny insect impacted the world economy for close to 200 years, after the Spanish first arrived in Mexico: the strong natural red dye from the cochineal or cochinilla, a bug living off opuntia (paddle) cactus. When ground in mortar

and pestle, or even in your hand, these bugs become a brilliant carmine red dye.

 

 

 

In fact, this red dye is food dye grade.  Next time you see a red-colored food,

look at the label and see if it says, "cochineal."  Then you can remember that

you are truly eating bugs!  Don't worry - it's safe!

For more on this, see the Snopes.com urban legend site which tells you what's

true, what's fake:

http://www.snopes.com/food/ingredient/bugjuice.asp

 

 

 

 

We didn't spend much time in their store, but I couldn't resist a

picture of this vase

 

 

 

 

Next:  on to the Sacred Valley, and the Andean market in Pisac

 

More soon!

 

Larry Reich

 

You may reach me with comments:

Laurence Reich

auburndocreich@aol.com 

 

 

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