"The high Andes plateau of Bolivia and Peru fostered cultures with the most advanced and beautiful weaving techniques in the ancient world."
Ponchos Rojas is a play on words...and if you are from Bolivia it's kind of funny.
Ponchos Rojos are an Aymara paramilitary group from the Andean region of Omasuyos in the province of Achacachi in La Paz, in the western part of Bolivia, by the Lake Titicaca - all of this predating the Inca empire. Recently this group has been used to provide 'security' for Bolivian President Evo Morales' less popular events and programs - they are a symbol of the tradition for the country - and the president uses them as such. They are distinguished by their bright red ponchos, typical of their pueblos.
Rojas is the surname of Ana Catalina Rojas - one half of our partnership.
Its these red ponchos (among other amazing pieces) that we are trying to share with all of you.
The Ponchos Rojos
Our company Ponchos Rojas is the culmination of many intersecting interests and passions. Greg is from the U.S. - Colorado, and Catalina was born and raised in La Paz, Bolivia. We crossed paths in design school and now live in NYC.
Our love of nature, family, and a passion to know where we come from has led us to travel throughout Bolivia - to see the beautiful natural environments, experience the local customs, and learn from the fascinating history this area has.
The high plateau of Bolivia and Peru has been the cradle of South American cultures for thousands of years. Not only have the ancient cultures of this area given the world modern staples like spicy chilies and potatoes, but these people also had one of the most advanced and beautiful weaving techniques in the ancient world.
These techniques have lasted the test of time and the curve of history, but modernity is finally threatening to erase this weaving knowledge and the beautiful woven goods once and for all.
We wish to share the pieces we have found and the knowledge we have gleaned with the world, and in the process to help save a little bit of history. While we aren't there yet - we are working towards helping to fund programs that help teach weaving techniques so everyone can enjoy what it has taken millennia to produce.
With our Ponchos Libres Non-Profit, 10% of our earnings will go towards our goal in preserving and keeping this art form alive, through weaving programs and community schools to teach the younger generations.
We have also started working with a vibrant community from the ancient Mollo Culture, located north of La Paz, in the province of Munecas. The Mollo Culture predates the Inca civilization, and are thought to be the direct descendants of the Tiwanaku civilization.
They have a rich tradition of embroidered and woven fabrics and are well known for their triangular patterns representing rivers, mountains, and stars, aswell as their detailed embroideries that capture both the sacred and everyday symbols of life.
The ruins of Iskanwaya believed to be the epicenter of the Mollo Culture, were built and surrounded by terraced garden areas used for catching rain and to support houses built in a trapezoidal form. The construction of these houses was based upon extremely careful calculations, but no one can explain the trapezoid's use, explains Carlos Ponce Sanjines, who directed Bolivian archaeology for most of the last half of the 20th century.
We have taken the time to list a little bit of history in the explanation of each piece that we are offering, but if you would like to know more we can suggest many great books, and you can get some basics here, here and here.
Also - check out our sister brand at Flying Merkel Inc.
Hermanas from the Mollo Culture