Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Textile Society of America 9th Biennial Symposium (2004)


Presented at “Appropriation • Acculturation • Transformation,” Textile Society of America 9th Biennial Symposium, Oakland, California, October 7-9, 2004. Copyright 2004 Textile Society of America.


Anne Paul opened the pandora’s box of Andean headdress history in “The Symbolism of Paracas Turbans: A consideration of Style, Serpents and Hair” (Ñawpa Pacha 1982). Mary Frame’s work on the multiple textile significations of twisted strands, looping, diagonal interlacing and other techniques used to create headdress bands has led to new insights on the relationships among textile practice, visual design, and concepts and philosophical premises encoded in many forms of Andean material culture.

This paper looks at the associations of form, practice, and textile history embodied in netted and looped head coverings preserved in burials on the desert coast of the south central Andes between 400 BC and AD 400. On the Paracas peninsula and in contemporary cemeteries of nearby valleys, netted and looped headdress elements may be combined with turban bands. Further south in the valleys that descend from the circum-Titicaca region to the Pacific coast, netted and looped headdress elements are combined with skein headwraps that have also been classified as ‘turbans’ (Agüero 1994).

In these societies of the coastal regions of far southern Peru and northern Chile, looped bags constitute an important textile form whose history stretches back to late Archaic fishing communities contemporary with the Chinchorro burial complex. Looped bags present at Camarones and Faldas del Morro are transformed over time in changing social contexts involving long distance llama caravanning, horticultural diversification and increasing social complexity. In some regions they develop into more specialized bags, while in other regions they emerge as headdress elements. This transformation from bag to headdress lays the technical foundation for a new type of head covering with the potential to transform the social meaning of headdress itself.