Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Published in Textiles and Politics: Textile Society of America 13th Biennial Symposium Proceedings, Washington, DC, September 18- September 22, 2012.


Copyright 2012 by the author(s).


In the Andes, ancient textiles have been discovered in abundance in the elite tombs of royal personages. The arid climate particular to the coast of Peru and northern Chile has preserved outstanding collections of these textiles. Exquisite textiles at the site of Chimu Capac in the Supe Valley on Peru's central coast were discovered in the beginning of the twentieth century by German archaeologist Max Uhle sponsored by Californian Phoebe Hearst. Many of the artifacts from Chimu Capac attest to elite status and the site may have been a burial ground for Wari administrators or even perhaps Wari royals in the tenth and eleventh century. More recently the excavations of the Huaca Cao Viejo Moche pyramid in the Chicama Valley of the north coast of Peru were sponsored the Lima banker Guillermo Wiese. The excavations inadvertently opened a cemetery of well-preserved funeral bundles covering the pyramid surface dating to the tenth and eleventh century. The "fill" that provided cover for the cemetery was really the slumped adobe Moche pyramid built from the fifth to the eighth century. Although few Moche textiles survive, the Royal tombs uncovered inside the Huaca Cao have preserved textile fragments that provide a rare view of early north coastal textile techniques in the context of these elite sites. This paper will discuss a selection of these important groups of textiles, and will examine the ways that modern-day private patronage has attributed to preservation of these Andean textile treasures.