IKAT Weaving in Ecuador, A Colorful Cultural UNESCO Treasure

Ikat weaving at La Casa de la Makana may be the only place in the world to see how they make handmade Makana shawls with Ikat patterns.

ikat weaving

Family Business

A short drive from Cuenca, Ecuador to the town of Gualaceo is where you will find La Casa de la Makata. The location is a modest two-story adobe home, slash workshop. The Jiménez family live and work there keeping ancient weaving and dying methods alive. From the road, you can see bundles of colorful yarn hanging just under the roof along with the Ecuadorian flag proudly flying.  A tour here is an amazing cultural experience.

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Beautiful Colors

The Ikat pattern and the weaving is a work of art passed down from previous generations. It is a family business. Jose and Anna Jimenez along with their children dye and weave in the same manners as their ancestor’s hundreds of years ago. The color making process is fascinating. The fibers can soak in a solution for several hours to several months to make different colors and various shades of each color. They use barrels to make their dyes. Each barrel holds a color and from that color, they make several more colors. To make these natural dyes they use nuts, flowers, rocks, insects, and many other things found in nature.

For example, they use part of an insect to make purple and lavender. Then by just adding lime juice to this color, it turned to red. Traditional Ikat patterns are somewhat of a throwback to the 70’s in the US when people were tie-dying. They tightly wrap parts of the thread before dying to create a pattern that will appear after the weaving. Without a doubt one of the most complicated methods of dying in the world. The method of dying the thread and the distribution of the yarn on the loom determine the design.

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Finest Ikat Weaving Designs

Ikat designs are common in other cultures, but the weaves in Ecuador are considered the finest. You need great skill to make just one piece. One shawl takes anywhere from three days to three weeks depending on the complexity. It was wonderful to meet this family who collaboratively makes their livelihood while maintaining this rich Ecuadorian art. Witnessing this living art in an age of mass production is unforgettable.

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weaving

weaving

About Tina

As far back as I can remember I was adventurous and wanted to see the world. The first time I traveled outside the country was with Keith just after high school graduation. After that, I was hooked. Throughout my career I was just like many of you, I wanted to work less and travel more. Keith and I made early retirement a reality. Now, I am here to help you retire early and find the inspiration to venture out and see the world.

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7 thoughts on “IKAT Weaving in Ecuador, A Colorful Cultural UNESCO Treasure”

  1. hello — I will be traveling and would like to visit this weavers workshop. Where exactly is it located? I cannot find on map — with thanks, Mari

    1. Hi Mari,

      You will love this place. It is located in the Gualaceo area. The name is La Casa de la Makana and the address info is:
      Sector San Pedro de los Olivos Km 10 1/2 Via Gualaceo, Cuenca 010150, Ecuador 09956991663. Any driver will know where this is. If you need a recommendation for a local driver I can help there too. I know there are buses that go to Gualaceo but I am not sure where you get off to go to the weaver’s place. Have fun!

        1. Hi Denise,

          I am so happy you like the article. We love the traditional art here, in our adoptive country of Ecuador. We have lived in Cuenca for 3.5 years. Where in Ecuador do you live?

  2. Tina:can you tell me how I can find out if La Casa de la Mahana will be open either 30 or 31 December, 2018? And what hours? muchas Gracias, Gretchen Vos, Ashland, Oregon

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