Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Silk Roads, Other Roads: Proceedings of the 8th Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, September 26-28, 2002, Northampton, Massachusetts


Copyright 2002 by the author.


My interest in the valleys of Arequipa began in 1994. A curious set of textiles labeled Nasca1 was attributed to the “Sihuas2 Valley, Nazca region, Peru, south coast.” The iconography of these textiles was not Nasca but belonged to unidentified traditions. They most likely came from the Sihuas Valley in the department of Arequipa. In 1997 and 2000 I went to Arequipa to establish if their provenance indeed was the Sihuas Valley and other valleys in the department of Arequipa. This was confirmed in the field for the valleys of Sihuas and Vitor at four heavily looted cemeteries. In addition, early Nasca textile fragments and a fragmented Nasca 3 bowl were collected. Figure 1 shows the valleys of the department of Arequipa in relation to the cities of Lima and Arequipa, and the south coast that includes the Rio Grande the Nazca drainage, the Nasca heartland. Approximately 300 miles separate it from the valley of Sihuas.

Over several years I acquired a small archive of illustrations and photographs of the textiles in question in addition to those collected at the four cemeteries. I divided these textiles into seven groups based on a comparative analysis using differences in iconography, style, sequencing of colors and weaving techniques, where possible, as well as 34 Accelerator Mass Spectrometry radiocarbon dates. The temporal ranges of the identified traditions will be shown below in parenthesis. It will be followed by the number of dates available for each tradition. All dates presented in this article are corrected and at the 68% or 1 sigma confidence interval. Three of the groups are local traditions, named Siguas 1 (543 BC-AD 121; 10), Siguas 2 (AD 127-333; 2) and Siguas 3 (AD 144-775; 8). Early Nasca textiles from Arequipa (AD 55-428; 4) and provincial Pukara (AD 138-406; 3) form the fourth and fifth groups. The remaining two groups are proliferous early Nasca (AD 168-425; 2) allegedly from Arequipa and Siguas –3 Nasca (AD 405-541; 1). Siguas 1 has its beginnings in the Early Horizon (EH) and ends about AD 100, during the early Early Intermediate Period (EIP), with the almost simultaneous appearance of early Nasca, Siguas 2, Siguas 3, provincial Pukara and surprisingly proliferous early Nasca. Siguas 1 and 3 are local cultures and Siguas 2 may be a local reaction to early Nasca influence. Between AD 630-669 a Middle Horizon (MH) Wari tunic found its way to the site of Cornejo in the Sihuas Valley.

I was informed Siguas 1 textiles were found in the valleys of Sihuas, Quilca, Majes and Ocoña. At the heavily looted cemetery 1 of La Chimba in the Sihuas Valley the author together with the archaeologists Rómulo Pari Flores and Marko López collected only fragments of Siguas 1 artifacts while cemetery 2 had Siguas 1, early Nasca and Siguas 3 remains. In the Majes Valley Siguas 1 is documented at Toro Muerto through illustrations of petroglyphs. In addition to the fragments collected at La Chimba, there is a significant body of Siguas 1 textiles in collections. In the absence of decorated pottery, the Siguas 1 culture is defined through textiles, engraved canes, pyroengraved gourds, copper pins in the shape of undulating snakes and petroglyphs.

Yarns used for Siguas 1 textiles are cotton and camelid fiber of different shades. The supply of camelid fibers most likely came from the slope of Nevado Ampato, the source of the Sihuas River, and not the altiplano. Camelid fibers were dyed in different shades of red, blue, green and yellow. The twist of yarns is 2Z into S and 2(2Z into S) into Z which also is typical for the south coast. Warp yarns are either cotton or less frequently camelid fiber; in the latter case used in pairs. I observed it twice among bands in interlocking tapestry (for one see Fig. 6) and twice among tunics where the plain weave warp yarns were doubled for the portions in interlocking tapestry.