This beautiful vintage poncho from the Peruvian highlands people of Accha Alta in the the Sacred Valley, is hand made on a backstrap loom using traditional techniques. Villages have their own styles and patterns which represent their region. The designs on this poncho reflect rivers and lakes. The fringe is particularly fine and very traditional.
Nearly all items of clothing are produced on a backstrap loom from skirts to shawls and ponchos to purses using handspun natural alpaca wool or cotton. The backstrap is a wonderfully simple loom where the warp is stretched between two sticks, one to be attached to a fixed object such as a pole in the ground and the other to the weaver with a belt around their back. The weaver uses their body to control the tension of the warp. Continuous string heddles are used to separate the warp sheds and the shed stick doubles up as a beater. The weft string is usually left as a ball and passed through each warp change. Backstrap woven items are warp faced and patterns are created by the weaver either picking up or dropping strings from each shed. The most beautiful thing about the backstrap, apart from the incredible and intricate pieces that can be produced on it, is the fact that it can be easily rolled up and put in a bag when the weaver has finished for the day. This is makes them easily portable and friends often set up their looms in a circle around a central pole.