The inhabitants of Taquile lived relatively isolated until the 1950ies, and the community feeling is still very strong. This is evident from our communitarian way of life and the way we make collective decisions. The tradition of weaving and knitting is maintained from the Incan civilizations, Pukara and Collas, and we preserve these elements of the prehispanic Andean culture until this day.
We weave our handicrafts by hand on prehispanic looms on the floor. The most characteristic things we make are amongst others the ‘chullo’; a pointy hat with ears, or the calendar ‘faja’ which is a wide belt that represents the seasons of the year associated with rituals and agricultural activities.
The ‘faja’ has caught interest of many researchers because it represents elements of our oral tradition in the community and our history. Although there have been introduced new symbols and contemporary images to our textile art on Taquile, we still maintain the traditional style and techniques. Our communitarian economy is primarily based on textile sales and tourism. While tourism is considered an efficient way of securing the continuity of the traditions of our textiles, the growing demand also means that there is a need of more materials, more production, and so on. Our population has increased considerably the past few decades and there have thus become a shortage of resources and thereby a necessity to import more and more hand knitted products.
We have been recognized for our skills in textile art as Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in the year 2005. We have a handicrafts store located on the main square of our community. We each bring our handicrafts to sell here; everything priced and numerated so we can see which family it belongs to. We are 435 members/families who take part in the handicrafts store. This is the best way to gain on tourism economically for those who do not offer meals, lodging or transport. Every week the store is shared by five families who can sell their textiles. The store is thus maintained by the traditional rotation system and everybody gets to sell their things.