A dirt road takes us up mountain from the town of Ollantaytambo. In an hour it brings us to the small farming community of Huilloc (Whéel-yoke). It sits at 3,500 meters above sea level and is part of the network of weaving communities in the region of Cuzco.
From their ancestors the people of Huilloc inherited a rich tradition of textiles and they carry it on. They continue to weave a range of textiles following the knowledge, techniques, and usages of their ancestors. In the textiles they depict images of the world in which they live, including the flora and fauna of the place. They weave into their cloth images of cougars, condors and the huallata (wall-yáh-tah) birds that are typical of the place. The bird is so important that people performa a dance in their honor that is much celebrated in Cuzco in its different festivities. The dance, like the birds, is called huallata.
The women have preserved this unique and ancestral tradition of weaving by hand colorful designs. On their looms they make some of the most beautiful and exquisite weavings in Peru, a country of weavers. In contrast, men dedicate themselves to helping the mother earth produce.
It is pleasing to see young girls playing by the side of their mothers while they prepare their looms. In the process the girls watch and learn from a very early age. They soon start weaving too and with lots of work and dedication they become fine weavers. In this way this great art is passed from generation to generation and helps us maintain our identity.
The inhabitants of Huilloc are known by the name of “The Huayruros” (why-rué-rows). They are given this name because of their beautiful red and black ponchos. Wearing these makes them similar to the fruit of a tree found in Peru’s Amazon, called by the same name huayruro. Together, the red and black suggest completeness.
In the community of Huilloc there is a small school where they community’s children go, dressed in their colorful costumes, their small ponchos, their short pants, and their sandals, which they use daily and not just to go to school or for some special events. In this way they maintain their ancestral tradition.
It is fun to see the children smile at you when you pass by, with their eyes shining with emotion from seeing tourists. It is a clear reflection of their simple life that is so distant from that of the tourists.
On Saturdays and Sundays the people of Huilloc hold a little market where they lay out their textiles, such as ponchos and shawls, among others, for people to come and see, as well as hopefully take home.
Huilloc is a beautiful place where people show their warmth and tradition. They invite you to visit them and form part of their lives and customs.