for several years now, we have been working with sofia, a woman here in la paz who sources vintage frazadas - blankets woven by the aymara people - for l’aviva home. she’s continually on the lookout for special pieces for us, and we adore working with her. (along with friend adriana, who bridges some of the logistical and technical bits of the process). l’aviva home’s ‘team la paz’.
when i come to bolivia, i visit sofia in her home in el alto (an outgrowth of la paz which sits high above the rest of the city) - a world unto itself. it’s here that sofia guards her most coveted finds.
frazadas have traditionally been made by the aymara for their homes and daily use - they protect against the high-altitude cold, and are used as ‘picnic’ blankets upon which the aymara eat their mid-day meal working in the alto plano.
the more frazadas i see, the more i am struck by how seemingly endless the procession of colors and woven details and pattern variations is. it occurs to me that i cannot think of another woven tradition in which there is such incredible variety within the form. beyond a few very basic parameters (frazadas are made in two symmetrical panels, each limited by the width of the loom, and joined together by a central seam), there seems to be no dictates followed in terms of design. each frazada is wholly individual.
the price of wool + alpaca has risen in recent years to the extent that it’s become prohibitive for the aymara to continue makingthese pieces for their own use - instead, they are often turning to less expensive, mass-produced pieces made from artificial materials.
consequently, this tradition - one of the mainstays of aymara life - is in danger of dying out.
we’ll continue to include the vintage frazadas in our collections for as long as sofia is able to find incredibly lovely ones for us.
on this trip, we have also begun to look at moving forward. we have planted the seeds for a new collaboration, in which we will begin to work with a group here in bolivia who will be making cushions for us - new pieces, from alpaca, based on traditional frazada designs. this project will be done in conjunction with ayni bolivia, an inspiring organization based here in la paz that i am excited to work with. we’ll provide the artisans with certain color and size parameters - but, beyond that, the artisans will design the pieces, each individual, based on their own visions - in keeping with the sense of individual expression inherent in the frazada tradition.
more on this to come.
in the meantime, our new collection of vintage frazadas is currently en route back to new york, soon to share with all.