A Fitting Collaboration

07-18-2016

Berit Elvejord, UnCruise Adventures

At UnCruise Adventures, our mission is to offer more than a travel experience. Guests experience adventures designed to respect the sustainability of local cultures and nature.

In searching for updated décor during the Safari Voyager refurbishment, we were thrilled to find and collaborate with a company that values culturally authentic and genuine experiences.

LOOM Imports is a fair trade home décor and accessories company that promotes and protects the traditional craftsmanship of indigenous artisans. All of LOOM’s collections introduce traditional artistry to a global market, supporting sustainable community development.

Showing off textiles in Peru

Such communities have passed down their creative skills from generation to generation, so that every item is a modern artifact of their cultural heritage.

Because LOOM works to design modern and relevant pieces while still highlighting indigenous techniques, they incorporate villagers into a global market while providing a living wage beyond what a craftsperson could typically earn in their village.

UnCruise hotel interiors project manager Ashley Brink co-designed blankets and pillow-cover textiles with LOOM founder and CEO Mae Link.

The nautically themed blankets were produced in the Sacred Valley in Peru, once the seat of the ancient Incan Empire. Their wool is a baby alpaca blend, alpaca wool being a main source of warmth throughout the Andes.

Naturally dyed alpaca wools

The pillows were finished in the mountainous city of Ayacucho (9,000-foot elevation!), where artisans weave locally-harvested and naturally-dyed wool on traditional wooden looms.

In 1825, the city was renamed after the remnants of a pivotal battle for Peruvian independence from Spanish colonizers. The area was called “death corner” or aya kuchu in the Quechuan dialect, after seeing the destruction of the battle.

Weaving on a wooden loom

A still of traditional looms in Peru, like what is used in Ayacucho

Even more recently, the city was used as a base for a radical communist campaign against the Peruvian government called the Shining Path.

After its leader was imprisoned in 1992, the Shining Path faded from prominence, and Ayacucho began rebuilding itself. LOOM contracts through weaving co-ops that create safe spaces for survivors who are still working to write new chapters for their families and revitalize the city.

The Safari Voyager will also display Mexican folk art pieces from the central region of Guerrero, where artisans paint mythological creatures on an ancient form of paper called amate.

The traditional amate process predates the Spanish Conquest, when Aztec peoples would soak and boil bark from fig and mulberry trees, and then use stones to beat the pulpy fibers into smoothed paper. Long-lost codices that contained Aztec records and history were recorded on amate, and it was also used by shamans who would use the paper as offerings for the gods.

Because of its prominence in such indigenous rituals, the Spanish called amate a form of witchcraft and banned its production. It managed to stay alive in villages throughout the central Puebla and Veracruz states, and re-emerged in national commercial markets in the 20th century.

Two amate paintings

Above and below, artists show off their amate paintings

Amate artist in his studio

One of the artists who pioneered the style of mythological figures on amate is Marcial Camilo Ayala, who came to prominence in the 1970's and has exhibited his work in exhibitions across the United States and is featured in the National Museum of the American Indian.

Called the father of this modern amate style, Ayala has developed relationships between the outside world and traditional artistry in his hometown of Rio Balsas.

Mae Link with LOOM's artisans

Founder Mae Link with some of her creative partners

Mae says that a big reason why she loves her work at LOOM is how much a small fair trade operation can highlight the processes, individuals, communities and culture behind the crafts.

By working with a company that promotes environmental protection and encourages fair trade cultural sustainability, UnCruise continues to inspire an appreciation of local cultures and the natural world.

Now, that will extend beyond the coasts of Mexico and Central America that you can see from our ships, and include the histories of distant times and cultures that are reflected by the Safari Voyager’s interior as well.



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