Spotlight: Salasaca Handicrafts

Jose Ignacio Caisabanda is a weaver, builder and entrepreneur whose home is in Salasaca, an indigenous agricultural community in Educador. In Salasaca, weaving is a tradition because people make their own clothes. Every family has different-sized looms for weaving different clothes and tapestries and Ignacio made his looms himself. Ignacio’s weavings can be distinguished from other Salasaca weavers by his original designs and colorful artistry.

Ignacio works as a builder in the Galapagos Islands half of each year. The flora and fauna which he observes there become elements in his most creative and unique weavings.  Other weavings show traditional designs such as calendars, Inka mythic figures, and the traditional Salasaca dancers (Danzante weavings).

In his home community Ignacio built Hostal Inka Huasi, a guest house and inn popular with foreign visitors. The hostal incorporates modern and traditional building methods, demonstrating Ignacio’s beautiful sense of design. Visitors learn about traditions in local agriculture, as well are spinning, dyeing wool and weaving.

ignacio2 (1 of 1)Edilma Pilla and Ignacio Caisabanda


Where is Salasaca?

“Salasaca is a small indigenous community in the Ecuadorian Andes, located between the cities of Ambato and Baños, about 3 hours to the south of Quito, the capital. It has about 6,000 inhabitants and the primary occupations are agriculture and weaving. Salasaca is best known for being one of the most traditional indigenous communities in Ecuador. We continue to farm organically for subsistence and wear clothes we ourselves make. We also celebrate our traditional celebrations, such as the Summer Solstice and the Day of the Dead.

For us the mountains are great spirits, as we live among them. Volcán Tungurahua for us is a grandmother, and you can see her in our art.”

– Edilma Rosa Pilla of Salasaca Handicrafts


IMG_4230In the 1960s they began using Escher motifs in the weavings, with birds and iguanas.


The Handley Connection

The handmade textiles of Salasaca came to Handley in 2009 when Kathy Janes joined the team: “My daughter-in-law, Edilma Rosa Pilla of Salasaca Handicrafts, is Ignacio’s niece. When I began working at Handley Cellars, I saw the folk art for sale, including some weavings from Peru, and wondered if Handley would be interested in the ones from Salasaca.  I brought in a few of my own and everyone here liked them.  My son Gabriel and Rosa brought back about a dozen in February 2010 and that’s when we started selling them.” The woolen tapestries have been a popular item in our gallery-tasting room ever since.



SalasacaHandiCraftThis piece is entitled “Gradas” or “Steps.”

If you are interested in purchasing one of these unique hand-woven woolen textiles, please call us at 800-733-3151 or email to learn about pricing and many other beautiful designs.



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