Arpilleras, appliqued textile pictures bursting with color and pattern tell the stories of the women in the shantytowns of Peru

Arpilleras

Arpilleras from Peru

.country market arpillera
Arpilleras or cuadros, exquisitely detailed hand-sewn three dimensional textile pictures, illustrate the stories of the lives of the women of the shantytowns (pueblo jovenes) of Lima, Peru and provide essential income for their families.

"Arpilleras originated in Chile, where women political prisoners who were held during the Pinochet regime used them to camouflage notes sent to helpers outside. Even the most suspicious guards did not think to check the appliquéd pictures for messages, since sewing was seen as inconsequential 'women's work'.

Today, arpilleras are created in a number of cooperatives located in the dusty shantytowns of poor and displaced families that ring the capital city of Lima." Pueblos are collections of the poorest people with unemployment near 80% and few sources of income. "Often the homes are shacks composed of salvaged parts: old doors, panels of straw matting, crating and corrugated metal. Water must be trucked in to the shantytowns because there are no water or sewage systems. Often, the small income from the sale of arpilleras provides the only source of income for families displaced from their traditional lives in the mountains. For others, this income allows the family to educate their children, to provide a little better living standard. For all, it engenders a sense of community among women who are often from very different customs and cultures; it is also a way to express their creativity.

The arpilleras tell the stories of life: stories of planting and harvesting potatoes, tomatoes, cabbages, grapes, corn; stories of spinning and weaving wool; stories of country life, of tending llamas, sheep and goats; stories of weddings and fiestas.

According to arpillera maker Rita Serapion, "We all have a little art in our minds and in our hands; we will leave something as a legacy for society. It will stay behind us, in another place, in another time."

From "In Her Hands" by Paola Gianturco and Toby Tuttle, Penguin Press 2000.

 

Mountain Village Arpillera

The villagers here are all busy at work.

    10"T x 10"W. $38.00

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Colorful Mountain Market Arpillera
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Colorful Mountain Market Arpillera

There is a little bit of everything for sale in this village market.

17.5"T x 19"W. $89.00

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Noah's Ark Large Arpillera

Noah is presiding over the most delightful collection of animals! The fabric choices are so creative & playful.

17"T x 19 1/2"W. $89.00

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Springtime in the Mountains Arpillera
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Springtime in the Mountains Arpillera

The villagers revel in the beauty of their Spring gardens with their flocks in the background.

10" square. $38.00

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Sheep Arpillera

This charming arpillera in the shape of a sheep has a wonderful Noah's Ark scene in the center with a fun cast of characters from hippos & elephants to dolphins and spiders. Great fun especially for a child's room but sure to appeal to the child in all of us!

23"W x 18"T. $118.00

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Noah's Ark Arpillera
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Noah's Ark Arpillera

All the animals are boarding the ark in groups of two beneath the palm trees.

10"T x 10"W . $38.00

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Market Day is Fun! Arpillera

The market is so colorful and lively, filled with bright wool and textiles and lots of veggies.

    10" square. $38.00

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A Visit to the Zoo with Friends

A group of friends are delighted by the wonderful animals at the Zoological Park.

    19"W x 18"T. $89.00

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Shepherd Girls in the Mountains Arpillera

The mountains are alive with the villagers' flocks, all carefully watched over by the sacred condors in the sky.

10" square. $38.00

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Village Life with Skeletons Arpillera

Playing on the slide or picking fruit and flowers, life goes on for these adorable skeletons.

17.5"T x 19.5"W. $89.00

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The Virgin of Guadeloupe Appears to Juan Diego Arpillera

Surrounded by the beauty of the mountains of Mexico, the Virgin of Guadeloupe appears in the clouds to Juan Diego.

18"T x 19"W. $89.00

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Mountain Village Harvest Small Arpillera

10"T x 10"W . $38.00

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A Colorful Mountain Village Market Arpillera

Did you notice the charming herd of llamas just behind the veggie market?

10"T x 10"W . $38.00

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Skeleton Wedding Arpillera

"As you are in this life, so it will be in the next life." These skeletons have assembled their friends and a band to celebrate their wedding.

17.5"T x 19.5"W. $89.00

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Village Life with Animals Arpillera

With the Andes high in the background, these shepherd girls tend their flocks and gardens.

10" square. $38.00

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Village Fiesta Arpillera

All the villagers are dressed in their best party clothes as they come out to celebrate!

    19.5"W x 18"T. $89.00

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Village Wedding Arpillera

The entire cast is here in this charming matrimonio scene: the bride and groom, attendants, and village people.

10" square. $38.00

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Country Market Arpillera Small

    10" square. $38.00

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Country Wedding Arpillera

The lucky couple in their wedding finery leave the church surrounded by all their family and friends amid the flowers of spring.

18"T x 20"W. $89.00

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La Playa Arpillera

La Playa Arpillera

This absolutely delightful arpillera depicting a day at the beach showcases the creativity and innovation of the arpillera artisans! From the wonderful collection of animals and the people frolicking in the water, everyone is having a terrific time.

53"W x 19.5"T. $349.00

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