Vicuña is considered the most luxurious of any fibre in the world; valuable, and preciously rare in the modern age. The high value of its fibres dates back to ancient times, when it was considered a symbol of nobility and its fibres were only woven by the “Virgins of the Sun”. In fact, for the Incas it was considered against the law for anyone but royalty to wear Vicuña garments. It was the ultimate gift from the Inca gods. Today, the Vicuña is the protected national animal of Peru and is represented on the Peruvian coat of arms.
The Vicuña lives in the High Andes as a free and wild animal, and is one of two wild South American camelides, the other being the Guanaco. This graceful, fragile-looking, elegant and extremely agile animal walks silently and alert through the Andean highlands, almost as if waiting for something extraordinary to happen. With its deep gold-coloured fibres, the Vicuña blends in with the landscape perfectly, which protects it from its natural predators. After being hunted by humans to near extinction up to the 1960s, the Andean communities, private companies and the government have managed to generate and enforce appropriate legislation for the protection of this invaluable species, which was brought back up to number approximately 200,000 animals in Peru by 2014.
The Vicuña only produces small amounts of its extremely fine wool (12 microns), and it can only be shorn every three years. For Vicuña by Amano Yarns, each animal is sheared after rounding it up according to a very ancient and traditional technique called Chaccu. No harm is done to the animal. After shearing, it is set free. In order to process the noble fibers, the fleeces are then sorted and dehaired entirely by hand in Andean communities. It is available only in the natural colours of the animals, and for the first time, is now available spun for hand-knitting.
Amano Vicuña comes in a natural wooden box made by Peruvian artisans – a luxurious way to present the finest fibre in the world. In order to highlight the uniqueness of this limited edition, each box is marked with an individual number and includes a signed certificate of authenticity. Within the box you find the gold of the Andes: two balls of Vicuña yarn and a knitted cowl pattern so that you can hold this exquisite fibre close. Feel the Andes. Be a part of the continuing story.
Click on the image above to view photos of the finished cowl and the contents of this precious boxed set in more detail. Be sure to also visit this photojournal gallery by Provinca Estudio Creativa.