In Otavalo, there is a deep tradition of weaving dating back to pre-Inca times.  During the time of the Inca, chosen women dedicated their lives to weaving fine textiles.  Samples of the finest cloth were burned each day in an important ritual as an offering for the sun.  Over many of years, indigenous weavers fine-tuned and developed increasingly sophisticated techniques and technology for their weaving.  Today, textile production involves entire families, and weaving skills are taught to children at a very young age, sometimes even as early as three (Meisch, 1987, p. 78).
Photo Credit: http://www.park.org:8888/Ecuador/weavers.jpg

       Most Otavalenos are involved with textile production at some level, whether it is by "selling wool, cleaning wool, carding, spinning, dyeing, weaving, sewing, knitting, embroidering, or selling and marketing finished products." (Musch, 1997, p. 50).  Only a small minority of people actually devote full time to the textile industry.  Many are leaving behind the traditional use of natural dyes and backstrap looms for more efficient and less time-consuming treadle looms.  Creating one blanket on a backstrap loom can take a person up to 240 hours, and is slow, tedious work. (Musch, 1997, p. 51).  The treadle loom is more efficient because it involves the use of both hands and feet.  The man pictured above is weaving on a treadle loom.

Information for this page was taken from the following sources:

Meisch, Lynn (1987).  Otavalo: Weaving, Costume and the Market. Quito:   Imprenta Mariscal.
Musch, Cheryl.  "Miguel Andrango."  Handwoven, September/October, 1997.