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The Tarabuco

explaining their weavings


tarabuco axsu

tarabuco "mini" weavings

tarabuco bags

Tarabuco belts

Tarabuco cushions

Tarabuco placemats and throws

tarabuco bookmarkers

male tapestries

male bookmarkers

male tapestry bags

alpaca wool cushions

alpaca wool shawls and scarves




The tarabuco

The Tarabuco culture is situated to the East of of the city of Sucre, in the Chuquisaca province, Bolivia. An ethnic group rather than a homogenous community, the Tarabuqeños typically live spread out in small, rural communities.

A group of Inca Pally weavers, Pisili


The Tarabuco are most easily recognized by the male dress, especially the striking use of rainbows, or K'uychis, that the Tarabuco men were in their ponchos, and “unkus”, small ponchos worn around the neck. The other most striking element of dress worn by both sexes, are the Tarabuco leather hats or “monteras”. Adopted only in the 19 th century, in imitation of the European style helmets, it has become one of the most striking elements of the Tarabuco dress. Interestingly, the style of monetera changes for women changes according to her marital status, from a style similar to a British “tophat” sported by young unmarried women, exchanged to one similar to male style on marriage, with a third style reserved for fiestas. Other than their headwear, Tarabuco women are, of course, recognizable by the distinctive weaving in their axsus.


  Tarabuco Pallay


The design characteristics of the Tarabuco weavings are marked by their strong sense of symmetry, use of colour, and representation of real life. A Tarabuco pallay is always segmented into bands, with its space broken into clear lines. Thus, dominanted by a sense of order and symmetry, the effect is that of a radiating light, from which its figures immediately stand out. Funeral or mourning pallay use predominantly blues, greens and purples, whilst other pallays use a range of colours, in imitation of the rainbows found in male ponchos. Representing the real concrete world, the weavings are ruled by a sense of natural order; depicting all aspects of the Tarabuco culture, from the natural world of plants and animals, to the Tarabuqueños themselves, the weavings should be read as an expression of real life, complete with cultural objects and figures engaged in everyday activities and fiestas.






Over the last twenty years or so, Tarabuco men have also been increasingly involved in the production of weavings, rediscovering the ancient art of tapestries. Although the initial stages of preparing the woollen thread remain the same, the men use a different technique in creating their art work, changing the colour of the weft rather than choosing from the fixed colours of the warp, which allow them greater control and variety of colour. Created by men from the Tarabuco region, this male practice was in fact only started around ten years ago when programs such as that of ASUR, were created to help local weavers. Consequently, production remains relatively small, and is limited only to commercial sale rather than the everyday practical weaving of the women. However, production is both growing, and diversifying – with every tapestry an individual expression of its male creator, these art works are the result of both pre-Columbian tapestries' influences, and the artist's own personal imagination and vision.


Close up of a Male Tapestry, showing a farmer with llama  


For a further explanationin detail about the meanings of the weavings, visit; Explaining the Weavings

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Para ver la página en español, haga clic aquí