About this object

History of use

The techniques, structures and some of the motifs have pre-Conquest antecedents. This type of textile conveys the most about an individual's ethnicity, sex, age, status and particular history. The exchange, offering and chewing of coca leaves is an ancient Andean custom that is practiced on diverse occasions, both mundane and sacred: payments to Pachamama (the earth), weddings, during community work, socializing after work, etc. Men carry and receive coca leaves in chuspas or bags while women use coca cloths. Coca bags are worn in a number of different ways prosribed by the status of the wearer and the occasion: on the wrist, around the waist, over the shoulder or tucked inside the chamarra or jacket. When a woman agrees to marry, she weaves a coca bag for her prospective husband.


Made by Candelaria for use by her husband, Augustin. During his year as officer of the port in 1982, Augustin used it to carry his notebook and pen. As a member of the Adventista Church, Augustin abstained from chewing coca leaves and so never used his chuspa for carrying coca as is traditional in Taquile and other Andean villages.

Cultural context

coca use

Iconographic meaning

The range of motifs refers to local geography and landmarks, ecology, fecundity as well as luck. The six part circle refers to the division of land into six sections on Taquile and the rotation of crops and fallow periods. The rayed diamond represents a dance done at weddings. The large and small birds refer to procreation.

Specific techniques

Commercial synthetic yarns, z spun and plied 2-s, are retwisted on the drop spindle before warping. Solid colour stripes are warp-faced plain weave; motifs are complementary warp weave with 3 span floats aligned in alternate pairs; stripes with squares are a float weave derived from a turned 2/1 horizontal herringbone. The bag is made from 1/2 of a 4 selvedge fabric and is constructed by folding and machine stitching. Edges are reinforced by countered warp twining. Fringes and strap are hand stitched additions.

Physical description

A red bag with bands of green and white stripes, geometric patterns and birds, and narrow strips of red, green and white squares, between. A slender strap in same colours and patterns at top and thick, multi-coloured tassels along the bottom. Red and green, and purple and yellow braided edges on the sides and opening.