Taquile Island, Lake Titicaca

Men knitting on Taquile Island, Peru
Men knitting on Taquile Island, Peru

In the 16th century, Taquile was a colonial hacienda that set the clothing style of the people, adapted from southern Spain. After Peru’s independence in 1821 it became a prison island, but the people of Taquile gradually regained control of their lands, and today they are a closely integrated community. Their language sets them apartfrom other Titicaca Amerindians; they speak Quechua rather than the more common Aymara.

Taquile Island. Photo: Shutterstock

Life on Taquile seems to have changed little over the centuries. The earth is farmed with traditional implements, and crop diversification is almost unknown. Plenty of potatoes but few fresh vegetables or fruits are grown. Trout, the best in Peru, are fished from the lake and served in the few basic restaurants. On the hillsides stand the remains of Inca terracing.

The Taquile weaving cooperative is renowned for the quality of its garments, and the people habitually look as if they are dressed for a fiesta. The women wear layers of multi-colored skirts and embroidered blouses; the men sport smart waistcoats and black trousers along with the little pointed hats that they knit themselves.

The islanders have a passion for fiestas, too. Whether they are celebrating San­tiago (St. James), which falls on July 25, or Pacha Mama (Mother Earth) in early August, high spirits, music, and plenty of chicha are always on display.

Fishing boats docked in a stone harbor at Taquile Island. Photo: Shutterstock

Village and Terrace Farming at Island Taquile Lake Titicaca. Photo: Shutterstock

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