Textiles and Traditions: The Significance of Pallay


By Kelsey Mazeski, Marketing & Communications Coordinator

At Awamaki, we collaborate, promote, and embrace, the wisdom and traditions of the Quechua women with whom we work with everyday. Through the design process and by providing access to market, we provide women artisans with a stable source of income.

We also have a responsibility to protect the centuries-old Andean styles and methods of production, even as more modern methods of production emerge. Through our innovative product designs, we aim to create a fusion of the past within the present.

Every year, our designers collaborate with the seamstresses and weavers to create a fall line full of creative looks while always using the techniques and motifs that have been employed for centuries and applied by the local women of the Sacred Valley.

One particular way in which we connect the modern world to the traditional textiles of Peru is by educating prospective buyers, visitors, and travelers on the meanings of each textile design.

As Awamaki’s reputation continues to grow, and the number of customized orders increases, it’s important that our growing clientele understand the integrity and traditions behind the symbols they request in their customized orders.

Guided by one of Awamaki’s resident designers, the Awamaki design team is in the process of defining the symbols and patterns found within the traditional Andean designs called pallay. Pallay is a Quechua word that refers to the motions and mechanics of warp faced weaving on a back strap loom. However, pallay is also the terminology for the graphic designs woven into each product.

As there is no official record or definition for each pallay, the Awamaki designers are collaborating with the women in our Patacancha and Kelkanka weaving cooperatives to compile a “look-book” with the definitions and symbolism for each pallay.

Our goal is to publish a physical book to be displayed in Awamaki’s fair trade store, and to also have a downloadable version available on our website to provide our clientele with a greater appreciation for the products they order and purchase.


About Awamaki

Awamaki is a nonprofit fair trade social enterprise dedicated to connecting Andean artisan weavers with global markets. We collaborate with women artisans to support their efforts towards educational and financial independence by co-creating beautifully handcrafted knit and woven accessories using hertiage techniques.