Textile Society of America



Wynne Minkes

Date of this Version



Textiles as Cultural Expressions: Proceedings of the 11th Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, September 24–27, 2008, Honolulu, Hawaii


Copyright 2008 by the author.


Trapezoid shaped garments are not common in the Andean Pre-Columbian cultures. Generally, men and women wore sleeveless tunics made from the whole woven fabric without cutting and sewing it into any shape as did the Europeans for instance. The lengths of these tunics ranged from chest to ankle. Often the shorter tunics were complemented by loincloths or skirts. The number of fabrics needed to make these garments would vary: one web folded in half or two or more webs sown together. The warps were hardly ever cut from the loom bar and wefts would be inserted up to the heading cord with the use of a needle. Thus, in order to make a flaring garment, the fabric itself had to be woven into a trapezoidal shape. In the Chiribaya culture (AD 900-1375) in the extreme south of Peru, the flaring tunic was a well known garment shape that would become ever more common and more flaring over time.

While studying a part of the archaeological textile collection from the Osmore valley in the extreme south of Peru (1999-2002), the author found two different methods of creating such flaring form. Two textiles had been found wrapped around the body of an adult man buried at the Chiribaya section of the site La Cruz. One was a loincloth that had been worn around the groin as it would have been in life; the other, wrapped around the man in a seated, fetal position and also covering his arms and feet, was a tunic, secured by wool ropes. A second flaring tunic, made with entirely different structural and decorative devices, was found at the coastal Chiribaya site of Boca del Río. This second tunic is included here because it seems to form a link between the two textile traditions found in this area.