Uqllu: Weaving Alpaca in the Andes
Pan America Silver Corp is a mining company based in Vancouver, BC and Morococha, Peru. Their social responsibility division created Uqllu, a company committed to showcasing Peruvian craftsmanship, providing additional economic opportunity for mining communities. Peruvian weavers are among the best in the world, and alpaca from the Andes Mountain region are revered.
The alpaca is a crucial component of life in the Andes Mountains of South America. The alpaca’s fleece produces a near perfect fiber; silky smooth and soft, durable and water resistant, lofty yet also provides superior warmth. Baby Alpaca is considered super fine and warmer than sheep’s’ wool. It is also hypoallergenic (alpaca do not produce lanolin.) Some Uqllu scarves blend alpaca with silk or bamboo. We recognize traditional designs, and Uqllu is also working with artisans to create fashion-forward scarves that appeal to a larger market.
Additional training, tools, looms, workrooms, decent hours and fair pay are all provided to local artisan weavers. Knowledgeable weavers pass on skills to apprentices. Profits from the sale of Uqllu scarves are distributed to the artisans. Profits and wages enter their local economy, magnifying their impact.
Social responsibility initiatives by multi-national corporations are benefiting artisans and communities all over the world. The stories are not simple, and there is controversy and dissenting opinion, yet we move forward. Change, in our view, is included in the definition of culture. Weaving has been a part of the culture of Peru and the Andes Mountains for thousands of years. So, the industry may look different today, but we should value it all the same.
A Curated World hopes to help Uqllu grow sustainable partnerships in the communities in which they live and work.