Date of this Version
Published in Textiles and Politics: Textile Society of America 13th Biennial Symposium Proceedings, Washington, DC, September 18- September 22, 2012.
A Colonial Andean tapestry in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, with its central field filled with European-style scrolling designs, a central motif attributed to a misunderstood Asian phoenix or dragons, border imagery that combines Old Testament biblical references and Andean women wearing their traditional llicllas (shoulder mantles) and acsus (wrapped dresses) and Renaissance grotesque creatures exuding from the corners, has it all. The intersecting meanings between the religious, cultural, social and political elements of a global world that is linked through trade and exchange in the 16th- 18th centuries is manifest in the design and technique of this unique and engaging tapestry. Made by Andean weavers, following traditions of the region, woven with native camelid-hair yarns, in a tapestry technique that extends back to the Inca era, it draws from influences of European concepts of history, functionality and narrative, yet distinctly originating in the New World. This paper will explore the interwoven elements of culture and identity through an examination in detail, of this and related Colonial Andean textiles.