Date of this Version
Published in Hidden Stories/Human Lives: Proceedings of the Textile Society of America 17th Biennial Symposium, October 15-17, 2020. https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/tsaconf/
Among our studies of ancient Peruvian textiles created in tapestry technique, we have come across some surprising elements, both in the warp and the weft. Andean textiles created over the past 10,000 years have been preserved in certain locations along the Pacific desert coast. They are usually preserved in the cloth bundles that protect and adorn the dead, and composed of fibers from native cotton varieties of Amazonian ancestry, the hair of highland ancestors of today’s llama and alpaca, maguey leaves from the mid-valley canyons, and reeds from coastal marshes. Garment forms, techniques and imagery can indicate textiles produced in different regions of the coast, or produced in the highlands and later deposited in lowland contexts.
In a survey of 450 textiles of all historic periods from sites in the greater Ica region, two objects stand out based on their use of unspun elements of vegetable origin in a tapestry structure. The plant parts are dissimilar, as are the species present, and the way in which they are used. In one case, the unusual elements are used strategically and seem related to object function, while in the other case the choice may have been purely aesthetic. One object is approximately 1000 years old, while the other is over 2000 years old. We present them in the contexts of the textile traditions from which they come, and whose rules they appear to break.