puskana (Drop Spindle)

About this object

History of use

Men, women and children spin yarn whenever their hands are not otherwise occupied; while walking, herding or visiting. Children learn to spin between 3 and 5 years of age. The majority of yarns are spun from a families own sheep's wool. Alpaca fibre is traded. Commercial yarns are purchased in Puno and re-twisted to make them suitably durable for warp-faced textiles. Relatively coarse and loosely spun yarns are suitable for weaving the plain weave cloth made by men which is cut and sewn into shirts, vests, trousers, and skirts.


Bought from Gonzalo Yucra Huatta who spun the yarn. Gonzalo claimed he could not spin the fine yarns used by women in their warp-faced weaving.

Cultural context

textile production

Iconographic meaning

The direction of yarn twist for ordinary use ply. Yarns spun in the opposite direction to this are made for ritual and magical purposes and are called lloq'e or 'left' spinning.

Physical description

Spindle consisting of a wooden shaft with a cup-shaped whorl positioned near one end. A small cone of z-spun wool is wound on the shaft above the whorl and a handful of unspun white wool is attached to the twisted yarn. The fleece is a combination of finer, crimpy fibres and kemp of hair-like fibres.