tupu (Pin)

About this object

History of use

Pins have been used for many centuries to fasten the rectangular woven garments like bodices and shoulder shawls worn by Andean women. In pre-Spanish times, the pin had a flat disc and tapered shaft. Spoons came to be re-shaped as pins after the conquest when the spaniards imported spoons. Size and decoration vary greatly. Today, the 'tupu' has been replaced by a beaded blanket pin which is used by women or men to close their clothing. The blanket pin, called a 'wallka tipana', is often worn as jewellery. There is an elaborate style for single people and a more austere version for married people.


The seller, Trefona Marca Quispe, and her brother Andolin remember their grandmother, Candelaria Flores Machaca, wearing the spoon-shaped pins with a black bodice called 'tipana'. The pins were old then, but no one knows how old. Trefona added the cord to the pins when she demonstrated how they were used to fasten the shoulder are of the rectangular bodice called a 'tipana'.

Cultural context


Physical description

Pair of metal, spoon-shaped pins with pointed shafts. The metal has a yellowish cast; bowl of both spoons has a simple repousse design of three arched lines repeated in reflective symmetry. The throat of the pin is decorated with reverse curve strips of metal soldered to each side. Twine joins the pins together and is attached through one loop of the reverse curve.