Thursday, December 15, 2005

Vampire bat hair.

Yesterday a woman in my Spanish conversation class brought show-and-tell about Bolivian textiles.

She brought a llxlla, the square tapestry garment which Bolivian women tie around their shoulders to hold babies or cabbages or whatever. Good luck signs and images of condors are woven into it.

Interestingly, the word llxlla cannot be found on Google.

She also brought a catalog from the textile-ethnographic museum near La Paz. The catalog said in passing that vicuña makes a very soft fabric, second in quality only to fabric made of bat hair. I found that hard to believe, but look at this, from a travel site:
Inca officials wore ... qunpi ... woven by aqlla (female virgins of the sun god temple) and used solely for royal and religious use.

Aside from the tunic, a person of importance wore a llawt'u ... woven from vampire bat hair.
After this mildly successful search, Google failed me again: no internet site describes how to harvest the hair of vampire bats and weave fabric from it.

My kids and I once groomed our very fluffy stupid grey cat Digit and arduously used these combings to make primitive yarns and felt. Our products were identical to the awful mats of grey fur Digit herself constantly left everywhere without any help at all.

That didn't slake my interest in unconventional animal textiles. My interest in bat hair is pragmatic! Remember, this past summer I had a huge maternal colony of bats in my attic; I fully expect them to return in 2006, so I'll have plenty of raw material on the wing.

If you know of a good bat-fur instruction manual or site, please let me know.

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