Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Presented at Textile Society of America 11th Biennial Symposium: Textiles as Cultural Expressions, September 4-7, 2008, Honolulu, Hawai'i. Copyright © 2008 Liliana Ulloa


Three tunics from the Azapa Valley, in northern Chile, dating to the Late Formative Period (330 A.D.) are presented showing the first complex ways of weaving from this area. They are woven as warp faced and the pattern design is made changing colors through discontinuous warps and mixing with weft faced weaving at the bottom of the tunics. One of them has coarse embroidered selvedges, which probably were created as reinforcement for the sides and as decorative features for the textile. The tunics originally formed part of mummy bundles that were excavated in small mounds or funerary túmulos between several layers of organic matter and earth. Most of the other textiles that also formed part of the bundles are made combining several techniques like slit-tapestry and different kinds of embroidery. Other objects, such as a wooden whistle and feathers are located in the same area, so this area is considered to be a burial ground for distinctive persons.

Looking at the colors (blue and green) and at the unusual techniques used in the valleys, is it possible to think that the weaving tradition comes from the higher lands of the Andes. Similar tunics have also been found in Tarapacá, located south of the Azapa valley.