Tuesday, June 20, 2017
The art of textile making in Peru, has a glorious history dating back to thousands of years, textiles were a highly treasured commodity, largely due to the great amount of labor and care that went into making them. Under the Inca fine fabrics were prized to such an extent that they became regulated by the state and they were the preferred royal gift.
The quality of a fabric in the clothing Andean people wore, as well as the motifs and iconography on their garments signified both social status and cultural identity.
In the highlands were the temperatures drop considerably after sunset, wool from different camelids were preferred. Alpaca was considered finer than llama wool and vicuña wool was judged to be superior to both. In the warmer areas of the coastal region cotton was the preferred material.
Human hair, feathers and metal were sometimes used to decorate the surfaces of fabric.
Netting, a technique for making textiles without a loom, employing loops and knots in the creation of the fabric, May have had its origin in the inventions of the fishing net, as essential tool for the early Peruvians who settled along the coast, where textile manufacture is thought to have begun.
The coastal cultures of Paracas and Chancay produced particularly beautiful textiles, many of them survived to the arid coastal climate, buried as funerary, bundles with mummies. Mummy wrappings, such as those found at Paracas Necropolis, had a special significance.
The bodies of older males were wrapped in the most exquisite fabrics indicating their high status.
Patterns and images of plants and animals may have conveyed information about the deceased’s linage, role in the society and occupation.
The early horizon was a time of great inventiveness in textile design and manufacture as seen in the Chavin culture.
The heddle loom came into use around this time a device that raised and lowered warps so that wefts could be easily inserted.
Chavin design and iconography probably established the wearer’s allegiance to the Chavin cult. The textiles discovered at the seaside cementery of Karwa, for example were probably religious banners, they exhibit Chavin style and incorporate many of the images from Chavin iconography.
Colorful paints were applied directly to these textiles. Interestingly on these banners the Chavin Staff God was depicted as a woman.
The archaeologist Richard Burger that the Karwa saff Doddess may have been sisters, daughter or wife of the great staff of Chavin de Huantar.
To learn more about our Peruvian culture, join our free walking tour every day in Cusco city.