This blog is about my work in coastal Ecuador helping to safeguard ancient handicrafts practiced by women living in the countryside who continue the pre-Hispanic technological traditions of pottery making and weaving.

Pottery making, and spinning and weaving with native cotton go back thousands of years before the Spanish invasion of Ecuador in 1534.

While archaeologists have documented the abundant coastal ceramic remains, successfully placing them into broad temporal-cultural periods, and textile experts have studied the very few textiles remains that have survived the humid conditions of coastal Ecuador, these records tell us nothing about the living artisans who have continued these technologies throughout the 20th century and into the beginnings of the 21st, making utilitarian pottery for cooking and storage, and spinning and weaving articles of everyday use such as the saddlebag or alforja and the hammock.

Both these ancient technologies today are on the verge of ceasing to exist altogether as a result of the powerful market forces of industrialization and now globalization.  With gas and electric stoves and metal cookware, there is little demand for earthenware pots and pans.  With plastic bags and sacks, wheeled transportation and factory-made hammocks, there is little demand for a home-spun articles.