Thursday, 24 December 2015

Don Miguel

While sketching in Pisac, Peru, I bumped into this gentleman several times. As luck would have it, I was lucky enough to met Don Miguel Chavez again at a cafe and he had some time to tell me a little bit about his fascinating life.

Born on the coast in northern Peru, his forbearers were from Italy.  In the early 1960's he made his way to Hollywood and had bit parts in serval movies before training as a pilot and finding employment as a crop duster.  A few years later he found himself back in Peru and became established in land-reform.  At that time the whole of the Sacred Valley was controlled by just 11 families and a new system of co-operatives was established.  As an offshoot of this he went to Prague to study agricultural engineering, but with marriage to a German woman, remained in Europe.

All these years later he is back in Peru studying "Andean Cosmology", ancient beliefs that continue as folk practices and cultural values, such as "Pachumamma (Mother Earth).   On a more practical level, he became aware that most of the Llama and Alpaca wool was either being laboriously spun by hand spindle, or sent out to be mechanically spun commercially.  He started to import simple spinning wheels and train local women to use them, in order to improve the economics of their beautiful weaving.    A brief outline of the project can be found at

No comments:

Post a Comment