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. Alpaca is plied with sheep's wool to extend it. This type of yarn is used in men's ponchos and women's llikllas or carrying cloths.


Bought from Gonzalo Yucra Huatta who made the sample specifically for the Museum. The family did not want to part with a full spindle of yarn which had been prepared for a weaving project.

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

2-z strands plied s.

Physical description

Spindle consisting of a wooden shaft with a cone shaped whorl positioned near one end. The whorl has several concentric lines and ridges on the rounded, bottom side. A small ball of paired black yarns, one alpaca and one wool, is attached to the cone of plied yarn which is wrapped on the shaft above the whorl.