Arpillera, Market Scene, Peru

Arpilleras tell the stories of life.  Stories of planting and harvesting; stories of spinning and weaving wool; stories of country life, of tending sheep and goats--a typical market scene in the Peruvian Andes.

Hand-quilting an Arpillera, which in Spanish means burlap or sackcloth, takes skill, patience and much imagination. To make each art quilt, the artisan begins by cutting scraps of material and hand-stitching them layer by layer to create a unique landscape. Next, cutouts of animals, trees, houses, etc., are stuffed with a technique called “trapunto.” Dolls are made with colored fabrics, while flowers and other fine details are hand-stitched and embroidered onto the landscape to complete each scene.

The Arpillera folk art tradition began in the early 1970's, when social upheaval in Peru pushed entire Andean communities to migrate to the city. People abandoned their land, home, crops and animals for settlements in the outskirts of Lima. In search of safety and economic stability, they found something far different. Families were forced to start from scratch. Thanks to their skilled hands and a sense of tradition and creativity, many women from these new communities learned a new skill with the help of German missionaries. Working from home, they could now use this marketable craft to generate income for their families while tending their children.

Each Market Scene Arpillera is unique and a one-of-kind piece.