On my travels there, I was amazed by all of the beautiful woven textiles. One of the best areas in La Paz to get all sorts of Bolivian handcrafts is south of the Iglesia de San Francisco known as Calle Sagárnaga. This image is taken from Calle Sagárnaga looking down towards the Iglesia de San Francisco.
Iglesia de San Francisco is also personally one of my favorite pieces of baroque-mestizo architecture---the church has a truly stunning and intricate carved façade. The façade includes fanciful carvings of birds, masks, pine cones in a mixture of Spanish and Indian traditions. The church was originally built in 1549 by the Franciscans but was collapsed by heavy snow in the early 1600's and rebuilt in the middle 1700's.
Heading back up towards Calle Sagárnaga and Mercado de Hechiceria (The Witches' Market).
As mentioned before, in this area, you will find all kinds of artesianal work as well as...
vendors selling llama fetuses and dried frogs for Aymara rituals, and soapstone figurines and aphrodisiac formulas. Little interesting fact about the llama fetuses:
"There are two different purposes that the dried llama fetus fills, the one that is seared on a plate with herbs and sweets is for good luck in business, while the regular dried llama fetus is to protect your home. It is widely known fact that most homes in Bolivia have these dried llama fetus interred in the foundations of the building."
Aymara textiles are prized throughout the world. Traditional Ayamara art depict the landscape, animals and plants of the Altiplano. While Aymara textiles otherwise known as awayos will often show images of llamas, fish, condors, stars and other designs. However, most of the textiles are also striped, similiar to the patterns of the terraced mountain slopes around Lake Titicaca.
Here is a photo of the terraced hillsides taken on a visit to the Islands of the Sun and the Moon on Lake Titicaca.
The Aymara textiles are woven by hand, using wooden looms. While the dyes used to color the textiles are made from boiled flowers and leaves. The textiles are strong and truly can last for many years. Each pair of my World Textile (Awayo/Bolivia)- Earrings incorporate a piece of awayo that has been brought back from my travels in Bolivia
The pieces of awayo are placed inside of these sterling silver domes that have the silhouette of the Chakana or Incan Cross pierced out. The Chakana or Inca Cross is an Andean symbol. The word chakana is derived from the Quechua word chakay, meaning "to cross". This cross represents the three tiers of Inca life: the lower world, this world and the higher world. The three levels are also known to represent the the snake, puma and condor. It is an icon that has been seen in the Incan culture, whether worn as a talisman or used in the architecture (i.e., temple steps).
While the hole in the center denotes Cusco, which is believed to be the center of the Incan empire and also represents the circle of life. The twelve outer corners are believed to mark the twelve months of the year. While the four main arms are thought to symbolize North, South, East and West.
I really do love traveling---- meeting new people, experiencing new cultures, and seeing how all these aspects influence who I am and my work.
UPDATE: just to verify, the pieces of awayo that I purchase to make the pieces are considered "scrap" pieces. I do NOT cut up large woven pieces.