Taquille is a Peruvian island in Lake Titicaca. The 1,300 people who live there have some unique cultural traditions developed over centuries of semi-isolation from the mainland. One of those developed from knitting.
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Both men and women knit, but men in particular knit woolen caps called chullos. The colors and patterns are codes that describe the wearer. Women evaluate potential mates based on the quality of their knitted chullos. BBC Travel interviewed residents about this practice:
According to Alejandro, the sign of good partner is one who can make a pin-tight chullo – one knitted so well that it is able to hold water over large distances when turned upside down. Would-be fathers-in-law often test the chullos of their daughters’ potential husbands in this way. Alejandro proudly explained that his chullo could hold water for up to 30m without losing a single drop, and was impressive enough to attract his wife, Teodosia Marca Willy, 44 years ago.
“She saw good skills apparently in my chullo. I used to make a really good hat; I was a good knitter,” he said.
The girls look for the best chullo. So if you’re wearing a good hat, you’ve got more [chances] to get a girlfriend earlier and faster,” added Juan, explaining that it’s often a community spectacle when the father-in-law checks the knitting quality of would-be grooms. “[When] the father-in-law [pours] the water in the chullo, then the groom has to be able to show the water in the chullo to everyone that is gathering there. All the family gathered have to be able to see the water in the hat,” he said.