puskana (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. Fine wool yarns are plied tightly and used in the pattern bands of the warp-faced fabrics made by women on the horizontal ground loom.


Spun by Pelagia Quispe Cruz specifically for the Museum on a spindle previously used by the family.

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.

Specific techniques

Fine z-twist yarn is spun by supporting the tip of the spindle on the ground.

Physical description

Spindle consisting of a wooden shaft with cup-shaped whorl positioned near one end. The whorl is roughly circular and smoothed by abrasion. A small cone of z spun yarn is wrapped on the shaft above the whorl and a handful of unspun white wool is attached to the twisted yarn. The fleece has some kemp or coarse hairs.