The Nunca Más (Never Again) Peruvian Quilts


Families of the disappeared in Sacsamarca with their squares

On May 21, 1983, nine villagers from the small market town of Sacsamarca in Southern Peru were killed in an encounter with the Shining Path guerrillas. Sacsamarca was one of the countless communities damaged during Peru’s long and dirty war against terrorism (1980 – 2000), but out of that tragedy has emerged a work of art – the first-ever advocacy quilt from Peru.21 years after the incident at Sacsamarca, the villagers were given a chance to remember through embroidery. AP has long suggested to our Peruvian partner, the Forensic Anthropology Team (EPAF) that EPAF works with stakeholders to produce an advocacy quilt, and in 2014 EPAF took up the challenge.

The EPAF team decided to focus on the community of Sacsamarca as an example of villages that was caught in the middle of the vicious war. Some of the villagers died at the hands of Shining Path. Others disappeared and are presumed killed by the military. Still, others perished in confrontations with neighboring villages.

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Families in Sacsamarca learning the art of embroidery

AP’s 2014 Peace Fellow, TJ Bradley from American University, coordinated the quilting project for AP, while Percy Rojas Quispe led the EPAF team. Percy and TJ visited Sacsamarca together in June and explained the concept of advocacy quilting to families by showing an AP video on the Bosnian memorial quilts, which had launched AP’s program of advocacy quilting in 2007.

TJ described this cross-cultural connection in his blog: “The women of Sacsamarca were captivated by the images of the women of BOSFAM and watched intently as the video flashed on the freezing, bare wall of the municipality. They knew the same pain and confusion that those women were feeling and were reliving their own personal tragedies as they watched the video we projected”.

“It was a fascinating connection between the two countries and conflicts that I wasn’t expecting. It was strange that advocacy quilting had arrived to a remote village in the Andes all the way from the aftermath of the Balkans in the 1990s. Unfortunately, the need for advocacy quilts in post-conflict societies still exists due to the tragedies that both these communities have experienced. Hopefully, we have begun a process that will bring the attention to the people of Sacsamarca, and all of Ayacucho, that can make a real change in their lives. Only time will tell, but the connection has been made and we are off and running…”

peruvian 4TJ’s blog was a reminder of how far advocacy quilting has come since 2007, and also of the therapeutic power of embroidery. About forty families in Sacsamarca volunteered. Percy, from EPAF, arranged for them to receive materials in the form of yarn, needles, and cloth. The women then set about knitting large, colorful squares in acrylic. They then embroidered in the name of their lost relative and added a colorful design. The whole process took place in public and produced memorable images.

The Sacsamarca squares were called ‘Nunca Mas” (never again). As with the earlier Bosnian and Guatemala quilts, they commemorate the disappeared through names. But they were also much larger and more colorful.

This created a technical challenge for the three American quilters in New Jersey who had volunteered to assemble the squares into quilts. Merry May. Elizabeth Ohlson, and Ginny Cooper, from the South Shore Stitchers Guild, had visited AP’s exhibition at the Noyes Museum, also in New Jersey, and offered to take on a new quilt project.

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Quilter Merry May at work on her Long Arm during the assembly of the Nunca Mas quilts

When presented with the Nunca Mas squares, Elizabeth, Ginny and Merry realized that the squares were too “wobbly” to be assembled into a quilt, and would first have to be stabilized and stiffened before they could be attached to each other and to backing. Elizabeth solved the problem by attaching a cotton backing to each square which stuck once it was ironed on. This gave the squares some strength and allowed them to be attached to one another by sashing (inserting a strip of material between the squares).

Elizabeth then laid out the attached squares over batting, and finally over the backing. The entire creation was taken over by her friend and fellow quilter, Merry May, who used her long-arm quilting machine to quilt over the spacing material between the squares (photo). They decided not to quilt onto the actual squares. The quilts then went back to Elizabeth and Ginny, who added sleeves and binding.

This process was long, frustrating, but also companionable, as the three quilters explain in the AP video. Elizabeth and Ginny almost gave up several times: “There was not a lot of enjoyment,” confessed Elizabeth. “It was hard work.” But she was pleased to have been able to help. “Their story needs to be told and I’m a part of telling that story – that kept me going.”

Merry agreed. She remembered “talking Elizabeth off the ledge multiple times” and insisting that “we can do this.” But she also recalled the time spent talking of innovative approaches and “thinking outside the box.”We are enormously grateful to the South Shore Stitchers Guild for donating material to this project, and for lending us three of their most experienced quilters. As for the quilters – Merry, Elizabeth and Ginny – they are now part of a community that stretches from New Jersey to Peru. It will all come together when their quilts are shown for the first time at the Long Beach Island Foundation exhibition in New Jersey, starting July 19. “It’s humbling. We’re very happy to have been a part of it,” said Merry.


The First, Second, and Third  Nunca Más Quilts

The First, Second, and Third Nunca Más Quilts


Mariluz Nilba Cuba Chechnes

15-9107c2f207c8780ec70549b19f97cb51peru4.jpgMariluz made this quilt in remembrance of her father Donato Cuba Taquiri, who disappeared on December 13, 1990. He was with a group returning to Sacsamarca when he was captured by Sendero Luminoso. One of members was set free and was warned not to tell anyone about what had occurred. The others were never seen again.


Marcelina Auccasi Lopez

66-1cfcb3182d76a187cb6c1b887dfd09d0peru5Marcelina made this panel for Jaime Janampa, who disappeared on December 17, 1989. Jaime was traveling to do trade with a group of residents when he was attacked and killed in an Sendero Luminoso retaliation against the people of Sacsamarca for rising against them.


Juana Huaman Quispe

71-70a1bfbb9e0b6e307f9e5c66c876f5e7peru3-e1436380892488Juana created this panel for her husband Maximo Jauregui Sulca, who left home in 1989 to exchange goods in another village during dry season and never returned. Maximo was very strong in his opposition to Sendero Luminoso. He left behind 9 children. Juana says that she still struggles to provide her family with basic necessities and resources without her husband, and she wants more support from the state. It is still very difficult for her to remember the disappearance of her husband.


Simeona Huaccachi Yanqui

78-40f329cfa87a939a0f745772294403bcperu6Simeona made this panel for Cesar Yanqui Yarucuri, who disappeared on August 19, 1982. He was taken from his house one night by a column of Sendero Luminoso because he was a local official. Him and his wife were both beaten and left tied up. Cesar was tortured publicly by Sendero Luminoso on two occasions and was forced to leave the area permanently.


Agripina Huamani Hanampa

83-b9c38580595cfff73352989ed74923a5peru7Agripina made this panel for her father Porfirio Huamani. Porfirio was traveling with a group to another village when he was killed by Sendero Luminoso. Agripina was very young when her father was killed, but says that she remembered everything again as she was quilting. She feels glad to have done the quilt because they have never done this type of activity there before.


Delia Taqiri Gonzalez 

248-e71293251c0ab4cdc6487690fba1a76dPeru2Delia made this panel for herself. In 1987, Sendero Luminoso burned her house down in an annex of Sacsamarca. Her family was tortured, both adults and children. The trauma continues to affect her siblings today. Delia hopes for support from the state for Sacsamarca. She says that she wants to return to her home, though many are still afraid to go back.


Lourdes Huaccachi Palomino

272-81e6c11086427d51a97b50b94f982fcaLourdes made this panel in memory of her husband Casiano Garcia, who was tortured when he was 15 years old by Sendero Luminoso. Lourdes wanted to participate with the rest of the village and to be involved in the community effort against SL. She would like to see the quilt returned to Sacsamarca once it is completed in hopes that it will help the families and victims of her village.


Claudia Chechnes

diomedesClaudia made this panel for her husband Donato Cuba Taquiri, who disappeared in 1989. Donato left to trade food in another area and was intercepted by Sendero Luminoso during his journey. He was last seen with signs of torture on the night of December 12th. He was taken away and never seen again.


Placida Huaccachi Cayampe

Placida created this panel in remembrance of her brother Alberto Huaccachi Cayampe. On February 24, 1983, he was taken from his house by SL, threatened, and pressured to join Sendero Luminoso. When he refused, he was taken to a bridge and shot in the back of the head. Alberto was in high school, and 20 years old at the time of his death.


Reina Vilma Huaman Chuquihuanca

Reina created this panel for Jesusa Huamani Chuquihuanca, who disappeared in 1987.


Prudencio Llacsa Choquehuanca

Prudencio made this panel for Eusebio Llacsa, who disappeared on May 21, 1983.

The Fourth  Nunca Más Quilt

The Fourth Nunca Más Quilt





Margarita Hanampa Takiri  

peruvian 7peruvian 8Margarita made this panel for her son Roberto Garcia Hanampa, her only boy and a student in Huancasancos. He was 27 when he was taken from their home by security forces and killed in the heights outside of the community. Margarita feels like a victim as well; in another incident, the security forces stole her animals. She has not received reparations or been certified as a victim because they say her son was in Sendero. Margarita felt sad as she made the quilt in remembrance of her son.

Maria Yanqui Yarcuri  

Peruvian1peruvian2Maria created this panel for Ignacio Pumallihua Cucho on February 1983. Ignacio was kidnapped and beaten by Sendero Luminoso in retaliation for the deaths of 2 SL members of who were killed in Sacsamarca. He was then separated and interrogated, but survived after a security force helicopter arrived and SL fled.

Felipe Huamani Janampa 


peruvian 3peruvian 4Felipe created this panel for his father Celidonio Huamani, who disappeared on September 12, 1982. Sendero Luminoso entered his house and shot him dead. He was killed instantly.

Vidalina del Pino Cayampi 

peruvian8peruvian9Vidalina created this panel for her father Moises Cancho, who disappeared on February 23, 1983. Moises was taken from his house for not joining Sendero Luminoso, was stabbed and stoned to death.

Rolando Bautista Lopez 

peruvian10peruRolando made this quilt for Tomas Bautista Ochoa, who disappeared on January 24, 1990. Tomas left Sacsamarca to trade goods and was intercepted and killed by Sendero Luminoso. His body was never found.

Epifania Garcia Auccasi 


peruvian13peruvian14Epifania created this quilt for both her husband, Saturnino Huamani Huanampa, and her father. In 1984, Saturnino was on his way to sell animals when he was taken by two Senderistas. He was beaten, then dragged from the back of a moving truck until he reached his death at only 30 years old. Saturnino was targeted because he was a leader of the resistance to Sendero Luminoso.

Epifania’s father was leader of the resistance as well. He was taken by Sendero Luminoso and tortured, but he escaped and died of complications from his wounds some years later.

The quilting was painful for Epifania, and brought back traumatic memories. She wishes to be recognized as a wife of a victim and not just a daughter of one.

Ananelia Auccasi Janampa 

peruvian20peru4Ananelia made this panel for her mother Segundina Janampa Hamani, who died in 1984 when Ananelia was 3. Segundina was in the Puna on July 24 when she was killed by Sendero Luminoso. Ananelia doesn’t remember much of her mother and it was difficult for her to speak about it. She says: “Sacsamarca has suffered much and appears fine on the surface but there is much pain below the surface still.” Ananelia invites everyone to come visit them in Sacsamarca.

Emilia Auccasi



Merceditas Garcia 

roberto0Merceditas created this panel for Roberto Gelacio Garcia Janampa, who disappeared in March, 1983. Roberto was taken from his house by the military and executed. His name had been previously passed to the military as a suspected terrorist.

Juvencia Velasquez 

juvencia0Juvenica made this panel to remember Asteria Aviles Gonzales. Asteria had originally confronted Sendero Luminoso about their abuses and was punished by having her hair cut. In April 17, 1982, she was kidnapped in front of her children and was later found dead with a bullet wound in her forehead.

Teodora Auccasi Barrientos  

teodoraTeodora created this panel for Luis Huaman Conde, who disappeared on August 7, 1985. He was taken from his house with his 3 younger brothers, they were accused of being informants by Sendero Luminoso and all were killed. Teodora was found bound and his head crushed by a rock.

Radigunda Pillaca del Pino

quienhasidotorturado0“Quien ha sido torturado?”

The Fifth  Nunca Más Quilt

The Fifth Nunca Más Quilt


Hector Cayampi Garcia 

antonio10Hector made this panel in remembrance of his mother Antonia Garcia, who disappeared on September 14, 1987. A group of Sendero Luminoso entered the community and killed several people in the town center including Antonia. She was dragged from her house and beaten and stabbed several times before she died.

Viviano Garcia Cayampi  

fernando0fernando10Viviano created this panel for Fernando Garcia, who disappeared on March 18, 1983. Fernando left his community traveling in the direction of Sacsamarca and was killed by Sendero Luminoso along the way. His body was found with his hands bound and his skull crushed.

Diane Pumallihua Garcia 

leandro0leandro10Diane made this panel for her father Leandro Pumallihua Cucho, who disappeared on May 4, 1983. Leandro left Sacsamarca with a group of police to confront Sendero Luminoso in a nearby community. He was shot and killed in the confrontation.

Hermalinda Cuba


Yolanda Quispe 


Yolanda made this panel to for her father Mamer to Quispe Yauri, who disappeared on March 25, 1990. Sendero Luminoso broke into the family home and took Mamer away because he was a former lieutenant governor. He was never seen again.

Nilton Pumallihua Garcia 

octavia0Nilton made this panel in remembrance of his father Arelandro Puma Cucho, who died during the battle of May 21st. Arelandro was a former local official for Sacsamarca. Nilton says that creating the panel made him feel sorrowful.

Octavia Huamani 

erinio0Octavia created this panel as a homage for her husband Erinio Alanya, who died in the battle of May 21st against Sendero Luminoso.

MariLuz Llacsa Cancho 

mamertopapa0MariLuz made this panel for her father Mamerto Quispe Yauri, who disappeared on March 25, 1990. Sendero Luminoso broke into the family home and took Mamerto away because he was a former lieutenant governor. He was never seen again.

Prudencio Llacsa Choquehuanca 

eusebio0Prudencio made this quilt for Eusebio Llacsa, who disappeared on May 21, 1983.

Ayde Alanya Huamani 

ayde0Ayde made this panel to commemorate her father, who died during the battle of May 21st.

Zoraida Bautista Lopez 

victor0Zoraida created this panel for her father Victor Bautista Huaccachi, who disappeared on January 24, 1990. Victor left Sacsamarca to trade goods and was intercepted by Sendero Luminoso, who killed him. His body was never found.