Friday, February 27, 2015

Quaker grey, Bolivian style

We’re home again, but I’m still under the spell of Bolivia. Certain images swim through my mind, and one of these is of Aymara women and their beautiful clothes. Here is one area where the Quaker testimony of plain clothes has not caught on. Cultural aesthetic values tend toward bright colors and glitter. Perhaps that has to do with the harshness of the natural context, at least on the high plains where most of our Friends originated.
A beautiful shawl tells people, “I’ve arrived. I’m important.” Even among Quaker women. It also tells people the family is prosperous enough to purchase one of these costly garments. And some of the shawls are homemade, of course—knitted, embroidered or appliqued.
If the Quaker value for understatement and plainness is to catch on here, it has to come from within the culture, not imposed from the outside. In the meantime, I, personally, enjoy the display.
Following are photos taken during yearly meeting or in a Sunday morning worship service. Some of the ladies are friends of mine, others are strangers.


  1. Thank you for sharing this, Nancy! I love the photos! Kay

  2. Thank you for sharing. They are beautiful and a lot of work to make.

  3. These made me smile a lot. I counted my scarves and shawls--47--many gifts, some practical, but mostly "finishers". I love to finish my rather plain outfits with just the right piece of fabric. But, none of mine are as detailed or dramatic as the ones in your pictures. Those are more than finishers. They make a statement. Why do I see you giggling (sort of) while taking these photos?

  4. You're very perceptive, spiritual friend.