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Taquile and its textile art

New Masterpiece 2005 of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity

November 25, 2005 - The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, today proclaimed 43 new Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritages of Humanity. Traditional Indian performances of the Ramayana, the Ramlila, Japan’s Kabuki theatre, the Zambian Makishi Masquarade and the Samba of Roda (Brazil), Taquile and its textile art (Peru), are among the masterpieces proclaimed. This is UNESCO’s third proclamation of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage, an international distinction destined to raise public awareness of the value of this heritage, which includes popular and traditional oral forms of expression, music and dance, rituals and mythologies, knowledge and practices concerning the universe, know-how linked to traditional crafts, as well as cultural spaces. Often vulnerable, this heritage, a repository of cultural diversity, is essential to the identity of communities and peoples.

The 43 new masterpieces were proposed to the Director-General by an 18-member jury chaired by Princess Basma Bint Talal of Jordan. The jury met from 20 to 24 November to examine 64 national and multinational candidatures. A total of 47 masterpieces were proclaimed in 2001 and 2003. Twenty-seven of them have already benefited from UNESCO’s support, particularly from safeguarding operations which received financial assistance from Japan.

This third proclamation will probably be the last. In 2003, UNESCO’s General Conference adopted the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. It stipulates that a Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity be created, alongside a List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding. The Convention will enter into force shortly, once 30 States have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession, which has already been done 26 States. The masterpieces from States Parties to the Convention that were proclaimed by UNESCO since 2001 will feature in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity so as to ensure their continued safeguard.

At the opening of the jury meeting, on 21 November, the Director-General of UNESCO declared: “We must not consider this phase as a last step, but rather as a moment of birth. In fact, the considerable experience accumulated over the last six years in terms of the methodology of identification and selection of masterpieces, and also in terms of concrete lessons drawn from ongoing safeguarding plans constitutes the irreplaceable matrix that will be of precious utility in implementing the Convention.” Recalling that the number of candidatures received rose from 32 in 2001 to 56 in 2003, and 64 in 2005, Mr Matsuura added: “These figures bear witness to the interest and the growing involvement of States in the safeguarding of their intangible cultural heritage.”

The island of Taquile is located on the Peruvian High Andean Plateau, in the Lake Titicaca, in the department of Puno. The candidature concerns the cultural space of Taquile island and its textile art, which is produced as an everyday activity by both men and women, regardless of their age, and worn by all community members. The island is characterized by its mountains and terraced plots and a variety of wild and cultivated vegetation as well as by its stone paths and archways, some dating from pre-Hispanic times.

The Taquile population was relatively isolated from the mainland until the 1950s and the notion of community and family is still very strong among them. This is also reflected in the strong organization of community life and collective decision-making. The weaving tradition on Taquile island goes back to the ancient Inca, Pukara and Colla civilizations; it thus keeps elements from pre-Hispanic Andean cultures alive in the present. Besides Aymara and Spanish, the Taquile people speak Quechua, an indigenous language of Peru.

All weaving is done on pre-Hispanic fixed and pedal looms. The most characteristic garments are the so-called chullo, a knitted hat with an earflap, and the calendar waistband, depicting the annual cycles connected to ritual and agricultural activities. The calendar waistband has attracted the interest of many researchers as it depicts elements of the oral tradition of the community and its history. Although the design of Taquile textile art has introduced new, contemporary symbols and images, the traditional style and techniques are still maintained.

Taquile island has two schools: an elementary school, where classes are held both in Quechua and Spanish, and a specialized school for learning Taquile handicrafts, contributing to the viability and continuity of the Taquile tradition.

Tourism has contributed to the development of communal economy, which mainly consists of the textile trade and the provision of tourist services. While tourism is regarded as an effective way of ensuring the continuity of the textile tradition, rising demand also leads to significant changes in material, production and meaning. The Taquile population has grown considerably over recent decades, leading to resource shortages and the need to import more and more goods from the mainland.

Source: UNESCO

Visit Taquile Island

Taquile island offer to tourists an authentic travel to the past, sharing the life with local natives and beautiful landscapes. The tourist are accommodation in a family house and all activities will be with natives. Is a real experience of rural tourism. In these areas visitors come into contact with ancient communities, and have the opportunity to share their ways of life and see their splendid textiles. Conscious of the value that living cultures mean to travelers from every corner of the world, a number of communities in Puno have opened to rural and experienced based tourism, both in the island and on land. It is there were the ventures of Taquile, Amantani, Uros and Llachon can be found. The visitor to Amantani or Taquile islands will visit Uros island on the route. Recommended program 2 days / 1 night.

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