Although I cannot yet claim to be a weaver, as a cultural anthropologist I have documented in some detail the methods of the last family of cotton weavers in the province of Manabí, located in the coastal region.  These weavers traditionally made cotton  hammocks and saddlebags.  While the hammock is an item that was used in pre-Columbian times, the saddlebag, known as an “alforja” was introduced by the Spanish conquistadores in 1534.  However, the type of loom used to warp and weave it as well as the vegetable dyes originally used to color the cotton skeins are typical of the pre-Columbian Andean coastal cultures.

My documentation began in 1975 while I was traveling throughout Manabí province on rural buses as I visited the homes of peasant potters.  Then one day, an elderly farmer jumped on the open-sided bus at my row of benches and sat down beside me.  He was carrying a lovely alforja, decorated with a beautiful woven design.

As his bag was unlike anything that I had seen before, curiosity got the best of me and I complemented him on it. He smiled from ear-to-ear, and told me that he was especially proud of the fact that weaver had woven his name into it. Our conversation turned to the weaver, and whether she was still alive and weaving.  He assured me that she was very much alive, but lived at the top of a ridge where the unpaved path to her home could turn very, very muddy with the impending rains of the rainly season due to begin any day now.  Instead, he suggested that I go visit a weaver who also weaves saddlebags with designs who lived in a settlement named Perú, alongside of the paved road.   “No, thank you”, I politely said and stated that “I want to visit the weaver of your bag”.

He told me that her name was Luz Párraga, and gave me directions how to find at her house.

Thus, began a new adventure and ethnographic study.   Click below to see this film.