Coca Bag

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, including; payments to Pachamama (the earth), weddings, during community work, and socializing after work, etc. Men carry and receive coca leaves in chuspas or bags while women use istalla or flat cloths. Coca bags are worn in a number of different ways proscribed by the status of the wearer and the occasion: on the wrist, around the waist, over the shoulder or tucked inside the jacket.


Made by Lucia Huatta Huatta for her second husband, Francisco Marca Quispe. Francisco said she made it in about 1976, and that he used it in their wedding and for fiestas since then.

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 diamond with triangles represents the fiesta of San Juan on June 24. The diamond with straight rays is the evening star. The s-shape represents 3 sectors of the Island's agricultural land together with the boat port. The branching motif represents a plant with spines, named 'hancolla' which is considered good luck when it flowers.

Specific techniques

Commercial synthetic yarns, z spun and plied 2 s, are retwisted on the drop spindle before warping. Solid colours are warp-faced plain weave. Major design panel is plain weave double cloth. Lateral design panels and strap are complementary warp weave with 3 span floats aligned in alternate pairs. The stripes with small squares have a structure of 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 sewing. Edges are reinforced by countered warp twining made on a separate warp and stitched to the bag. Fringes and strap are hand stitched additions.

Physical description

Red bag with white geometrically patterned red and green vertical stripes. Wide band of patterns flanked by thin colourful stripes runs down center. Slender strap with same patterns and colourful yarn tassels along the bottom. Chevron edging on sides and bag opening. Extra strap sewn to inside corner of bag.