Author: Elena Phipps

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Image features: Fragment of a mantle with close-set horizontal rows of stylized warriors' heads, each with different headdress and color combinations. In the top row, upright front-facing heads alternate with upside down heads in profile. In the next row, upright heads in profile alternate with upside down front-facing heads. Rich muted shades of brown, gold, tan, blue, green, purple, and white on a rust-red ground. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Portrait Heads
The production of this type of cloth was confined to a brief period of great artistic achievement in the Nasca region. The portrait heads appear to be of human rather than deity figures, and seem to represent individuals of varied status and perhaps ethnicity, signaled by the wearing of certain accoutrements. Features of the figures...
Mystical Incan Band
The fine weaving of this narrow band, with eccentric wefts that follow the diagonals of the design, marks it as a special item. Among the brilliantly dyed blue, yellow and red yarns, a fuzzy, coffee-colored yarn stands out. The fiber source may be an extremely fine camelid, such as the wild guanaco, or rabbit hair,...
Peruvian Nets
Knotted netting is one of the most ancient methods of constructing textiles, often used for functional objects essential to early cultures, such as bags, snares and nets. Many examples have been found in the middens, or refuse piles, of the Pre-ceramic cultures of the desert coast of Peru. Nets played an essential role in fishing:...
An Elegant Duality
Andean cloth has many meanings. Some are expressed through complex iconographic representations, others employ a strictly geometric vocabulary. Another form of meaning comes from the materiality of the cloth itself and way it was made. This simple cloth is composed of interlocking stepped squares in contrasting colors. The duality of the design, like the Chinese...
Color Play
The wild and syncopated play of color and pattern in this tie-dyed textile from ancient Peru seems to counter the meticulous and steadied hand of the Andean weaver. The fabric was in fact specially woven in discreet, stepped-shaped units that were cut apart and re-assembled after being tie-dyed, mixing up the variously dyed sections. Several...
Preserved in Paracas
This border fragment, formerly part of a large mantle, is one of a group of textiles found in a necropolis on the Paracas peninsula in southern Peru. Over four hundred such burials were found in the 1920s by Peruvian archaeologist Julio C. Tello, including mummy bundles wrapped in layer upon layer of beautifully embroidered textiles...
A Four-Selvedged Cloth
The idea of completeness was central to Andean design thinking. This simple, small piece is a four-selvedged cloth, with all edges intact. Structurally, it integrates two woven planes, one red and one white, in a double-cloth structure. The red ground is a simple plain weave, where yarns go over and under in a regular interlacement....
A Complete Concept
This simple, small rectangular cloth is an example of four-selvedged weaving—the process of weaving cloths of specific sizes and shapes without cutting any edges. The tradition was practiced for millennia in the Andes, and is rarely found elsewhere in the world (in most cultures, woven textiles were cut from the loom). Inherent in the four-selvedged...
Mantle decorated with series of broad and narrow horizontal bands in reds, pale tan, cream, pale yellow, blues, silver.
Andean woman’s mantle
This beautiful cloth is a woman’s shoulder mantle, called a lliclla in the Quechua language of the Inca Empire, and was made during the colonial period of Peru. A perfect blend of the cross-cultural elements of the 16th– and 17th-century era of global trade, the Chinese silk and Spanish silver threads are woven with Inca techniques and...