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Chinchero: Birthplace of the Rainbow

Photography, TravelChloë RainComment

Chinchero is believed to be the mythical birthplace of the rainbow.

All colors are made from certain natural elements, all naturally dyed alpaca fur made into yarn. 

Chinchero is a small Andean town located high up on the plains of Anta at 12,343 ft elevation (3762 m) about 30km from Cusco. Chinchero is known for its Sunday market and naturally dyed yarns and goods made by family communities in the village.

The "courtyard" you see pictured here is shared by 15 families and they make and sell everything from sweaters, textiles, Andean Silver jewelry, rugs, and it's home to a few llamas and guinea pigs.

This young girl spoke very good English and had a wicked sense of humor while telling us about the dying processes. Some of the color are fixed by using baby urine.

Jessica in-joying a warm cup of Muña tea (Andean Mint) as we all listen to the women explain the entire process of making yarn from Llama & alpaca wool and the dying process.

The color purple is made from maíz morado, or purple corn.  Since I have been in Peru, I have been in-joying Chicha Morada a sweet Peruvian beverage made from purple corn, cinnamon, clove, lime juice, and really fancy versions add pineapple juice.

Below, shades of green are made from Chilq’ua leaves, a weedy bush that literally grows everywhere in Peru. Used primarily to obtain a light green, can also be combined with the Mordant cupric sulfate to create a much darker green.

Cochinilla or Cochineal a parasite that lives on prickly tunas (or cactus) is used for carmine red dye.

Ok! So this blew me away, red my most favorite color of all or crimson color, deep red, and orange red are all made from a parasite that grows on cactus! Add lime juice and the color turns bright orangish red, add alkaline and it turns purplish red.


The parasite called cochinilla or cochineal (Dactylopius coccus) is a bug parasite of plants belonging to the family Dactylopidae , whose host is the prickly tunas (Opuntia ). The bug is also known as cochineal carmine, cochineal, nocheztli and "Wheel of Death".

The cochineal is an insect that plays in the cactus leaves, and that an extract of natural red or crimson, which when mixed with acid (such as lemon juice) gives other shades of red is obtained, but the combined with alkaline changes to purple.

The stove where they boil water and create the mixtures for the dying process.

Another of our young hosts showing us how they make the textiles.

About a thousand different kinds of potatoes, grains, and maize.

Did you know there are over 2000 varieties of potatoes in Peru?

Guinea pigs are considered a delicacy food, specially prepared on Saturdays in Chinchero.

However on this day, we were served a brothy whole chicken soup with cassava root also known as tapioca, and chuño, a freeze-dried potato product traditionally made by Quechua communities of Peru.

With "spiked" tea, a tradition that I am very much enjoying while in Peru. smile...

Chloë Rain is the Founder of Explore Deeply and the Explore Deeply Movement.

She has had the pleasure of mentoring women and men all over the globe to learn to source their inner power, deepen their relationship to their own guidance, and experience greater love and fulfillment, so they can enjoy the happiness they have always wanted, and have confidence and joy in their lives.

Many of her clients find that their relationships and careers shift dramatically in new and exciting ways after doing this work, creating freedom and fulfillment in their personal and professional lives. To find out more about working with Chloë go → here.

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