Huarmi Maqui (in Kichwa: Women, Hand)
‘When I am knitting I remember my Mom and my Dad, they taught me how to work. And I feel that deeply in my heart”
- Mama Matico
Up in the Andean Highlands you get immersed into the stories kept by the indigenous elders, narrating the sentimental relationship between mountains and volcanoes, and the perfect connection with human kind.
In between the smell of the paramo, the pure straw, the cattle, and the almost freezing air, you are brought into the past. Women inherited weaving/knitting techniques, that more than their occupation, represents the memory of those who preceded them in time and in space.
The inspiration of their work comes from the uniqueness of the Andes, and the weaving design is a manuscript of thousands of years of history. Matico and Paola are proud indigenous women preserving the art of hand knitting as a way of recovering their indigenous cultural identity.
“Muchos nos dicen indígenas, pero la propia es runas. Somos runas!”
Huarmi Maqui was founded over a decade ago by Matilde Lema, better known by friends as Mama Matico. Matico is a community leader who has been actively campaigning in support of the indigenous populations.
For years, she suffered physical and psychological abuse from her husband, and therefore she bravely decided to file for divorce even when that meant her family’s repudiation.
She counted with the support of her children -the oldest one is Paola- and courageously she started Huarmi Maqui.
She envisioned a safe place for indigenous women, where they could gather to work in their handmade pieces and be flexible enough to exercise motherhood.
Huarmi Maqui (Kichwa dialect) means in Spanish ‘Manos de mujer’ or ‘Women’s hands’ in English.
Casa Matico is home to women with a strong and unique cultural identity, who perceive themselves as a driver for change. They strongly believe in equality and care of the ecosystem.
Simiatug, pronounced shimi-AH-took and equivalent to “Mouth of the Wolf” in Kichwa, is a remote village tucked away in a valley in between the Andes (inside the Chimborazo Wildlife Reserve).
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