“To weave is an essential element
in the Otavalan culture.
It has been greatly valued by its
people and practiced
~Obraje Weaving Museum
Backstrap weaving is an art that has existed for thousands of years. In Ecuador, the Cayambe and Caranqui people were weaving on these types of looms when they were
conquered by the Inca around 1495. Then the Spanish came to Ecuador and conquered the country in 1534 which changed everything for the indigenous weavers. They were forced to work in
Spanish textile factories using a new kind of loom, the treadle loom, which allowed for much faster production than the backstrap loom. Thus, textiles became the main export of Ecuador for many
years with the weavers working in servitude. The local textiles were exported to Peru, Columbia and Bolivia. These weavers worked for the haciendas which often included working the lands of
these colonial estates. Sometime after 1964 and the passing of the Law of Agarian Reform and Colonization, many indigenous local tribes of Ecuador were granted titles to their land and
encouraged to weave for their own profit.
Today in Ecuador, many highly skilled indigenous people are still weaving using their ancestors’ ancient techniques. The result are hand-woven textiles renowned
all over the world. Weaving has allowed the Quichuas to improve the quality of their lives. Otavalo is considered the center of the country’s textile production along with many
other crafts including leatherworks and embroidery.
Information extrapolated from