Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Published in Sacred and Ceremonial Textiles: Proceedings of the Fifth Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, Chicago, Illinois, 1996. (Minneapolis, 1997).


Copyright 1996 by the author.


The term "sacred" in our symposium title implies the existence of "secular" and thus conceptually divides the world into a dualism which is characteristic of Western thought. Perhaps though, that is not the way the ancient Andeans, whose textiles we are to briefly examine, saw their world. They did not divide the world into animate and inanimate, into flora and fauna, or neatly into secular and sacred. Everything was a living, interactive part of their cosmos and every textile, regardless of its rank, was considered to be spirited. With last year's discovery of a fully clothed 13 year old Inka girl who had been sacrificed in Inka ritual on a mountaintop and then frozen, to be found five hundred years later, we can glimpse the end of this three thousand year Andean textile story.