Chaccu, collecting the golden fleece of the Andes

A thin muzzle, long legs, a slender muscular neck, the vicuña is the smallest of the four species of camelids which has been living high up in the Andes, for more than 10000 years. During the time of the Incas, its wool, which was extremely fine and used for imperial costumes, was gathered in a large annual shearing ceremony called Chaccu. The fall of the Inca civilisation took with it the Chaccu tradition; hunting, capture, poaching and other massacres put in danger the survival of the species of the golden fleece.
Faced with the urgency of the situation, the local and international authorities got together to reintroduce Chaccu, allowing for the species to be saved and to support the local communities. The harshness of the surrounding nature and the wide area of land occupied by the vicuñas makes it a delicate operation: it demands an agreement from a whole collection of communities, without distinction of sex, age, or social status, whose members group together to form an enormous human chain, dotted with multicoloured flags here and there, to herd the vicuñas without scaring them, into one place. Once the animals are all together, the shearing takes palace in the heart of the highly ritualised ceremony: traditional songs, dances and sacred thanks for the abundance of the harvest take place before the animals are freed. Working together, communities and individuals guarantee both the success of Chaccu with the gathering of the precious wool, and the perpetuation of an ancient cultural tradition.
The raw fibres from the shearing of the vicuñas are selected by hand, then threaded and woven to create fabrics of incredible softness, particularly appreciated by the western luxury sector.

The Gold Of The Andes from The Inoue Brothers on Vimeo.