Unfinished Hat

About this object

History of use

The colour, extent of patterning, shape and the manner in which chullus or caps are worn signal differences in age, sex and status of the wearer. Females wear chullus in early childhood, but only males wear them later in life. Traditionally, knitting is done only by men and boys, formerly for chullus, but recently also for vest fronts, coin purses, gloves, ties, vests and sweaters which are sold to tourists. This is the soltero or single man's style of cap. Married men sometimes wear it, especially for communal work parties, although everyone agrees it is the style for single men.


Augustin was working on this hat during May, 1982. It would have been used by a family member or sold to visiting tourists. The needles are bought in Puno and the hooks are fashioned by the knitter who bends and flattens the ends. Knitting is done while sitting or walking. Red and white yarn is carried in 2 pockets and the strands pass around the neck downwards to the needles. Extra colours are carried along in local areas.

Cultural context

knitting process

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 s or z shaped reverse curve can refer to the boat port or other objects that contain the idea of turning or returning such as a recurved potato hook. The cross or x-shape can refer to the warping cross in weaving, the crossroads or other intersections. The stepped diagonal lines refer to stairs on the steep island, but also to the connection with the afterworld in a particular myth. The motifs represent basic concepts or interrelationships and may have different particular references.

Specific techniques

Plain knitting done circularly on five needles with extra colours carried on the inside for local colour areas.

Physical description

Partially finished cap on knitting needles, with two colours of yarn attached. The knitting is mounted on four needles and the circular fabric is folded in half. The needles, including the fifth for transferring stitches, are lined up parallel and bound together with the unused yarn. Rows of geometric patterns in white, blue, and green, divided by thin blue lines. Checker effect of blue, red and white along edge.