The Andean region is famous for its impressive textiles woven by skilled weavers. Albeit altered by Colonial policies, colonial Andean textiles maintained Andean standards while combining new colonial elements. At the TSA 2020 Virtual Conference, I presented on colonial textile production at the Obraje (textile mill) de San Marcos de Chincheros (ODC). The ODC is located outside of Chincheros, Ayacucho, Peru, and operated between 1570-1820. While I had planned to present on data found from archaeological excavations, permit delays and the COVID-19 pandemic changed my plans. Instead, I presented on the archival research, spatial and textile analyses I conducted between 2017-2019 with particular emphasis on heritage textiles produced at the ODC and preserved by the Chincheros community.
When the Spanish invaded Peru, they were awestruck by the Andean weavings they saw. Therefore, it is no surprise that invaders established obrajes to capitalize upon the skilled weavers and exploited their talents for economic profit. The ODC employed, “people from distinct parts of the repartimiento”. Between 1597-1602, 450 indigenous and mestizo men, women, and children are listed as paid employees in the ODC’s salary book; between 1800-1801, 136 indigenous and mestizo men, women, and children are listed as paid employees of the ODC’s operations book. This steep decline is not surprising as loom production at the ODC steadily decreased after 1730, which reduced the need for employees. In a play to maintain profits, it appears that ODC administrators illegally procured local añil through indigenous employees with knowledge of local botany. Pre-invasion Andean textile production had been mostly communal, but ODC administrators divided up laborers and labor roles as a form of spatial disciplining. The division of laborers limited how weaving techniques and traditions could be passed down through generations. Throughout most of the ODC’s operation textile producers were divided into seven labor roles: setters, washers, spinners, weavers, fullers, dyers, and nappers. Labor roles changed throughout one’s life, as colonial assumptions about one’s perceived strength varied based upon age. The reliance upon the young and the elderly altered the implementation of Spanish spinning technologies. Who and how the ODC employed transformed the physical characteristics of the textiles produced. I attempted to capture these transformations, seen within my 2019 textile analysis, within my TSA paper.
Maria Smith was a Founding Presidents’ Award Nominee for her presentation “Creating the Sensible: Weaving the Colonial Aesthetic at a Colonial Obraje” from the TSA Virtual Symposium in October 2020.
Maria Smith is a weaver and doctoral candidate in the Anthropology Department at Syracuse University. Her dissertation research combines historical and archaeological data to investigate the ways in which colonial textile producers at the Obraje de San Marcos de Chincheros influenced the colonial aesthetic through their labor.
 Translation by autor, “Gente de distintas partes, del repartimiento”- Census from 1729, Archivo General de la Nacion, Padrón de los indios tributarios de la provincia de Vilcas-huaman, obispado de Huamanga, en que se comprenden todos los pueblos, ayllos, estancias, obrajes y haciendas de la dicha provincia, Campesinado, Derecho Indígena, Legajo 14, Cuaderno 248, 
 Miriam Salas de Coloma 1998 “Estructura Colonial del poder español en el Peru: Huamanga (Ayacucho) a través de sus obrajes.” Universidad Católica del Perú, Fondo Editorial (vol. 1 and 2)