Iskonawa Textiles

For a long time, the tradition of iskonawa designs was at risk of dying out, but thanks to the efforts of the elders, this legacy continues to be passed on to the young women of the community. This not only strengthens their identity, but also preserves the collective memory of the people. According to anthropologist Carolina Rodriguez, the explanation of the Iskonawa designs are linked to the family memory and kinship of these people.


The Iskonawa designs, characterised by their square and zigzag motifs, known as "kere kere", are used on a variety of objects, ranging from tocuyo fabrics to artifacts and sometimes even on the body itself during festivities or rituals (Rodriguez, 2020).

In an interview with Neyra Perez, she mentions that designs were previously made only on the body:

"My ancestors lived in the cone hill, my grandparents did not paint on the cloth, they only painted on their body, when they went hunting, when they went to the bush, that is why we who are of the third generation capture on our cloth. The designs are representations of animals, and the zigzag represents the hill of the cone where my ancestors come from".


Natural dyes are extracted from the bark of trees such as yacushapana, and they also use clay or black mud to draw thin lines as part of the Iskonawa people's design. Other natural dyes include huito or chehe cimi, which provides the black colour and which were also used in body designs. In addition, the black color extracted from huito can be stored through a cooking process. Achiote is also used to obtain the red color and sanipanga for the purple purple colour.

Neyra Perez, tells us about the process to obtain the natural dyes the Iskonawa people use:

"The colors that come out of the yacushapana bark are brown, earth color (...) to dye we take out enough bark and from there we usually dry the bark for two days, from there when it dries we scrape the bark with a knife, and then we put it to boil in a large pot, and the bark extraction we empty it to a large tray. With that we dye the cloth, we put the white cloth in it and from there we sun it, when it is already dyed, we put it in again, so, two or three days the cloth is already dyed. And then we sun one more day so that it dries well and that is when we design with the mud. It takes us one or two or three days to paint the designs.”

There is also another process to obtain the natural dye to make the iskonawa designs:

"We make yacushapana boil in a small pot, with that liquid we paint directly to the white fabric (...) with the yacushapana it comes out black, then there is another brown color, that is another bark, that with the mud we paint the fabric".


There is little information on the traditional dress worn by the Iskonawas, however, through recent research a type of skirt was recorded that was worn by both men and women, called Hanpeinti, and they were made from Yanchama. These skirts were used on special occasions, such as celebrations.