Meet our Artisan César and his Family!
Mark and I work with several artisans and their families in Ecuador but we do have one we rely on the most, who we would like to introduce you to! This is César who lives with his family high in the Andes of Ecuador. They are indigenous Quichua and speak the Quichua Imbabura dialect. This is the language of the Incas! However, when we communicate with César and his wife Teresa we speak in Spanish with them. But at home, the language they use is Quichua. César is literally our Main Man because although we work with other artisans too, César makes the majority of our jewellery. This is César (second from the left) and his family with the volcano Imbabura in the background.
While we were living in Ecuador, we got to know César as we would buy gifts of tagua jewellery for our families in the UK. Our son would often visit his friends in the north of Ecuador and while there I would send him to do a bit of buying from the artisans! Lots of video calls and photos swapped as decisions were made! So we have known César for several years and been to his home several times, sometimes squished in the back of taxis with his children!
In January 2023 we were able to visit Ecuador again and work along with César and Teresa in their home, and just this week we have had a photo shoot of them and their children done and want to share some of the beautiful results!
As indigenous Quichuas the men wear their shiny, thick, black hair long in a braid, called a ‘guango’ in Quichua. It is part of their culture, part of their identity and part of being accepted in their community. The majority of people who live in Otavalo are indigenous Quichuas so walking around the town is a beautiful sight where the men look dashing in their ponchos and hats, and the women look stunning with their embroidered blouses and strings of gold necklaces and long, graceful wool skirts. These clothes are not just for special occasions but are part of their daily attire.
When I am there I am overcome with the feeling that I've stepped into another world! A more colourful vibrant world with South American pan pipe music playing in the marketplace and friendly Quichua men and women greeting me and saying hello. I hope we can go back again soon!
It’s time for me to hand over to César now, because this really is his story and I asked him what the work we give him means to him and his family. So he is, in effect, writing to every one of you who have purchased tagua jewellery, because without all of you we wouldn’t have this beautiful business which is affecting so many people’s lives directly and indirectly! I will put the English translation underneath it for you:
"Hello, my name is César Jose De La Torre Montalvo. I am from Ecuador. I am 42 years old and I have 4 children and I am an artisan and have worked for 18 years with tagua.
For me, working with tagua is a blessing from God as it is the only work that has sustained my family and through this work I have been able to help other families by giving them work and I give thanks to God for this marvellous fruit of the natural world that is tagua.
Also I give thanks to those people of good heart that know to appreciate my artisan jewellery that is made by hand from the tagua fruit (seed)."