Peruvian poncho

karinlMay 6, 2010

I bought this apparently old apparently Peruvian poncho a number of years ago. I have had it stashed away but recently got it out wondering how I could either display it or make it usable as perhaps a lap robe or something without damaging it, but changing it enough to use.

The question is, what constitutes damage when a piece has been altered and repaired as much as this.

I've never been convinced that the fringe is original, because it doesn't even remotely match the colours of the piece itself. And I don't really like the fringe at all. I do think the edge band is original, and the fringe just threaded into it and not the actual warp (or weft? I get confused) thread.

I would appreciate some input: Would you remove the fringe? Would you pull the threads from the edge band or just remove the edge band? Would you use this at all, or just hang it for display?

I'll try to add some close-up photos later if necessary, as my first batch turned out fuzzy.


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It's called attrition.

Do you hope to maintain some resale value? Then repair it and disclose repairs. Modifying a piece, as you suggest, is attrition and generally not acceptable.

If you only intend it for personal use with no intent to retail, then do as you wish.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2010 at 11:55AM
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I don't plan to resell it any time soon but am aware that it might/should be resold at some point, by me or my estate executors (hope that's a while away). I don't think it's precisely precious but I paid enough for it (and it has enough age even if I didn't) that I think it should be treated with respect.

What I'm dithering about is whether the fringe constitutes something that should be preserved. For me, it is kind of like the lowered hall and bathroom ceilings in our Victorian house - a bad renovation that needed to be removed and restored to original condition. But in this case, I suspect it is a renovation that was done by a member of the same peoples that made the poncho in the first place - perhaps in indigenous 2nd or 3rd owner who got ahold of some modern yarn and gleefully (and very painstakingly it must be said) added it to the original. The problem is that it makes the poncho ugly by almost any definition.

The repairs too - the stitching holding the band to the main piece - are quite sloppy. I don't mind them as much as I mind the fringe through, and I can see them as adding value and authenticity. I have more trouble seeing value in the fringe, whatever authenticity is has. And the easiest way to remove the fringe would be to remove the whole band, taking apart the somewhat charming stitching that holds it on. Argghh!

Sigh. But thanks for helping!


    Bookmark   May 7, 2010 at 2:13PM
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Just by looking at the picture, I don't believe the fringe is original. The band does look to be original though. If it were mine, I would remove the fringe but leave the banding even though it may be more tedious to do so. I would also try to replicate the stitching in the original piece when making the repairs or find someone else to do so. I personally believe that would restore it as close to original as you will get with a piece of textile with tha much age on it.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2010 at 3:04PM
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I think the multicolored fringe is original in comparing it to some images I found while Googling. It seems typical to that particular style of weaving and poncho. There appears to be different types of Peruvian ponchos. That the colors do not match looks typical, too. But I'm no expert.

What do you want to do with it? I think it could make a pretty hanging on a dowel in the right decor mix of ethnic and modern.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2010 at 3:16PM
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I can't tell just by looking if the fringe is original....or even what fiber the fringe is....but I think it's highly likely it's either original or enough "of the type" that it should stay.
From the pictures I have seen and find on the web, that fringe seems typical. I would guess that those lovely jacquard woven ponchos were cherished enough to have a new fringe applied when the original wore out....or perhaps that brightly colored fringe has some significance I don't know about.
At any rate...I really think you should leave it as is.
Linda C

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   May 7, 2010 at 3:26PM
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Linda, your link takes me to a "forbidden" message. I would be interested in seeing some like examples. Is there a way to reconnect?

    Bookmark   May 8, 2010 at 2:49PM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

My guess (and that is all it is) would be that the fringe is original. Many of the colors of the fringe seem to be running through the poncho itself albeit subtly including the pink, green, and purple.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2010 at 4:54PM
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I think this is the photo Linda found. How old did the seller say it was?

    Bookmark   May 8, 2010 at 5:03PM
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Wow, that's an incredible photo. And the fringe on the one on the foreground pretty much confirms the aesthetic I am sort of fighting: any colour to get more colour. But my fringe doesn't get that close to being really attractive or matching.

I confess I didn't search much before posting, although I remember searching once away back. Just now I also found the site below, also a visual feast though not having the artistic punch of the photo above. There is one poncho part way down, age given as circa 40 years but no price, that is the closest I've seen to mine.

Many thanks for the help with this. I was pretty much afraid that keeping the fringe was the right answer, probably that's why I've done nothing with it to date. It would be really labour intensive to remove strand by strand, and getting half way through such a job and running out of steam would be far worse than never starting.

If I display it I could probably pin it to cork with the fringe hidden behind, and if I want to use it as a throw, I could find some acceptable fabric and make a channel that holds the fringe invisible. In other words, I'd add something that could later be taken away, rather than taking anything away that's been done before.

I'll work on those close-up photos tomorrow.


Here is a link that might be useful: other weaving

    Bookmark   May 9, 2010 at 12:34AM
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Don't mess with the fringe....don't try to hide's part of what the poncho is...It's supposed to look like that.
Removing the fringe or hiding it is a little like cutting the flowers off the peonys because you wanted a green plant.....the flowers are part of that peonys are....just as a brightly colored fringe is part of what an antique Peruvian poncho is.
It's great....display it with pride....fringe and all!
Linda C

    Bookmark   May 9, 2010 at 1:04AM
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Thanks, Linda, that's not a bad analogy, and good advice.

Whoops, in my search I almost missed the one at the link below, identical make and colours, and probably original fringe. One begins to appreciate why the fringe was renewed at some point, even if one cannot appreciate the colours. They are definitely not the original colours; the poncho is softer natural dyes; very subtle colours, and none of the fringe colours quite match, not even the beige or the pink though the photos might suggest they do. They are also much more garish and modern; I'm sure they're not natural tones.

I managed to get some good close-up photos for anyone who's interested. At first I almost wondered if the fringe threads were the warp of the band, but it really looks added later, but it's done with amazing care and labour. The second photo shows all the colours in the piece.

Also for anyone who's interested, you can see the weaving method on these photos, which is what really secured my interest in the item. The threads are twisted as they're woven, both front and back, making it very three-dimensional and thus adding a lot of warmth, which is why I'd far rather use it as a throw than putting it on the wall. The fibres are not soft, but very warm.

Anyway, thanks for your interest, nice to talk to someone about it.


Here is a link that might be useful: Poncho previously sold on ebay

    Bookmark   May 9, 2010 at 4:39PM
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