The Center for Traditional Textiles in Cusco

Jessica Goldsmith


Picture1The Center for Traditional Textiles in Cusco (CTTC) preserves and promotes Quechua weaving traditions, primarily those deriving from their Incan heritage. The CTTC is composed of regional community centers that provide shared spaces for weavers to practice, instruct beginners and market products. In addition to hands-on learning, members use a museum in Cusco, digital and print publications to teach the history, purpose and craft processes of Quechua textiles.


This is a two-part study assessing how Quechua participating in the CTTC are using texts and interior spaces to negotiate and express a group identity grounded in their Quechua heritage. First, the study assessed CTTC textural media and found that it drafts an intertwined narrative sequence linking textile and social history. The CTTC’s textural narrative is (re)constructing Quechua-ness; it is an empowering cultural history contextualized through textile use and making. In light of this purposeful cultural-historical narrative, this study then asks how the CTTC is using its facilities to express Quechua-ness in the interior. This study is significant because it uses multiple media to interrogate complexities in contemporary Quechua identity expression.


This study finds that interiors continue the CTTC’s narrative of a contemporary Quechua identity rooted in Incan heritage, but interior spaces demonstrate a more nuanced, expansive Quechua identity-expression: one with multiple ethnic, cultural and historical influences. Textural media and textile craftwork emphasize an Incan, Pre-Columbian past; interiors add new layers of complexity to an evolving expression of contemporary Quechua-ness. Through spatial layouts, interior furnishings and finishes, and person-interior interactions, center sites express a multi-cultural Quechua identify. Interiors contain multiple markers contextualizing contemporary Quechan identity at a confluence of Incan, Spanish, colonial and global influences. In this way, interiors are a significant media, enriching expressions, explorations, and understandings of Quechua-ness.



2Jessica Goldsmith is Visiting Assistant Professor in the Interior Design Program in the Virginia Tech School of Architecture + Design. She holds Ph.D. in Design, Construction and Planning, a Master of Interior Design, and a Bachelor of Design from the University of Florida. Goldsmith is a certified interior designer in Virginia. Through a range of methodologies, her scholarship explores the relationships between people, identity and place-making. She has presented to the Interior Design Educators’ Council and the Society of Architectural Historians.