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.


William Duncan Strong's excavation team, working at the base of the major ceremonial mound at Cahuachi, in the Nasca Valley, on the South Coast of Peru, encountered evidence of a thickly woven plain white cloth (fig.1). His journal entry for September 1, 1952 reads:

Strong was disappointed at the findings of the cut, subsequently referred to as the '''Rag Carpet' site." What he had hoped to find, were richly endowed burials, on the scale of the Paracas Necropolis. What he had actually found was probably the largest single piece of cloth ever woven in the Western Hemisphere, buried at the base of the largest ceremonial architectural mound in the South Coast of Peru2.

In the spirit of the progressive, systematic archaeology of the 1950s, Strong's workmen dug four test holes directly through the cloth3. The resulting cloth fragments were shipped to Columbia University, along with other artifacts and documents from the excavation, where they currently reside in the William Duncan Strong Collection Study Room, in the Department of Anthropology 4.