Explore the Collection of Amano Precolumbian Textile Museum

THE EMERGENCE OF TEXTILES THROUGHOUT THE WORLD
Textile making emerged as a response to the need for humans to protect themselves from inclement weather. Paleolithic evidence dating back to around 20,000 BC exists of the first animal hides sewn with bone needles. Later, the interweaving of lengths of cord led to production of the first cloth. This development emerged in several places around the world during different periods. In Peru, 10,000 year-old evidence of the ancient use of rushes for weaving baskets has been found before the use of cotton.
ANCIENT TEXTILES AND GOODS: 3000 - 1200 BC
Ancient decorated cotton fabrics dating back to around 2500 BC have been discovered on Peru’s northern coast, marking the emergence of complex textile making. The invention of the first looms was a revolutionary event. It made it possible to construct more complex textiles. Plain weave gave way to dyed fabrics and the development of a range of geometric designs incorporated into textiles. Later, animal forms were introduced, followed by complex motifs such as those representing the gods. All of these advances were achieved through variations in weft threads. This was a period of great discoveries and changes.

One of the ancient faces of a god.

COMPLEX RELIGIONS POWERFUL GODS: 1200 - 100 BC
The new religion was organized by priests, who evoked new deities through the ritual use of hallucinogenic plants and visionary trances. These deities ensured plentiful seasonal rainfall and abundant harvests. (Stone-Miller; R. Shultes & A. Hufmann; L. P. Kuist & M. Moraes; F.J. Carod- Artal, C.B. Vásquez – Cabrera)
TRAVELING DEITIES, THE FIRST RELIGIOUS PILGRIMAGES  
That painted textiles served as tools for religious indoctrination or in clothing designated for ceremonial use. Clearly, textiles possess advantages over other media (such as stone), given that they can be folded and transported over long distances as part of a trading system that also involved pottery, dried fish, semiprecious stones and pigments. (A. Cordy-Collins)

Ceremonial mantle made in plain weave technique and decorated with negative painting technique. Probably, this piece was used as a wrapping mantle for funerary bundles or as a shirt.

PARACAS, DESERT TEXTILE MAKERS: 800 BC to 200 AD
This society from the southern coast of ancient Peru was composed of the different groups that settled in the valleys of the Ica region. During its early phase, Paracas culture was influenced by Chavín religious beliefs. Gradually, new regional religious practices evolved. The outstanding richness of Paracas textile production contrasts with the aridity of the desert where these artworks were discovered. (H. Silverman, E. León, S. Massey). The people of Paracas developed most of the techniques known by pre-Columbian cultures and used to this day by Peruvian artisans. Paracas embroidery achieved an impressive level of detail in small almost three-dimensional figures.

Decorative band with interlocking designs. The pre-loom technique is plaiting of yarns and it creates different bands which give as a result tridimensional designs.

TRADITIONS
Master embroiderers and apprentices would work together, thereby ensuring that traditions were passed on and new masters trained (M. Medina).

Iconography embroidered on a large mantle, plain weave fabric, design symbolizes a calaverian character, perhaps an ancestor.

Embroidered iconography on a large mantle made in plain fabric, design is a classic trophy head in art of this culture. Yarns of different colors and various embroidery techniques were used for this piece.

EMBROIDERED GODS
The people of Paracas worshipped many gods and supernatural beings. The emergence of these deities was influenced by the religious traditions of Chavín. Representations of humans can be seen featuring supernatural attributes or ornamentation that identified them as rulers. More geometric forms are associated with the Paracas Caverns period. (J. C.Tello). Other more complex and detailed images of gods belong to the phase known as Paracas Necropolis. The different representative styles found in Paracas art coexisted during the Paracas period.
NASCA, HEIRS TO THE DESERT: 200 BC - 600 AD
Situated in the deserts of Ica (on Peru’s southern coast), the Nasca society made significant developments in textiles and pottery. The multicolored artworks of Nasca reflect their debt to the culture of Paracas. This society chose new symbols to adorn its clothing, particularly the flora (flowers, beans, tubers) and fauna (killer whales, foxes, monkeys, hawks) of the coastal desert. They also employed symbols representing human-feline and human-hawk deities, among other divinities. These images are composed of angular or geometric components.

Important Nazca mantle, woven with the plain weave technique, decorated with geometrized zoomorphic designs in brocade technique. Characters in different forms: birds, winged creatures and probably frogs.

NASCA TEXTILE TECHNIQUES, RESIST DYEING
This is one of the most impressive techniques developed in ancient Peru, the use of which has also been documented in other countries around the world. The term “resist” refers to the way in which sections of the textile or its designs were covered. This was done before submerging the textile in liquid dye, with hot or cold water, in order to prevent the dye from reaching those sections.

Ceramic sculptural piece which represents a Nazca nobleman. He is holding a trophy head in his hands. The character wears a shirt, a loincloth, a cloak and a turban.

WARI, THE FIRST ANDEAN EMPIRE: 700 - 900 AD
This society developed from its base in the southern highlands of Peru (Ayacucho) and marked the beginning of a new belief system which spread throughout much of Peruvian territory. The Wari empire enjoyed the necessary religious prestige required to conquer great swathes of territory, and this expansion was characterized by the establishment of stone-built cities with large independent complexes devoted to ancestor worship. In addition, the Wari constructed one of the earliest road networks, which would eventually form part of the system known as Qhapaq Ñan. (D.Bonavia 2006; M. Benavides 1999.

Ceremonial tunic of stripes worn by the Wari nobility, the bands are decorated with designs of winged gods of profile in symmetrical oblique opposition.

Interpretation of the classic rectangular designs of the Wari tunics. The heraldry-like images show a face and the staggered wave symbol.

Ceramic sculptural piece which represents a Wari nobleman. His posture is like the the god of the staffs. It represents a character who is wearing a four-cornered hat and a robe with two stripes on it. His hands have holes where he might hold two sticks or crosiers that were not found with this piece.

Mantle or fabric wall used by the Wari nobility, made with discontinous warp and weft and tie-dyed technique.

KINGDOMS AND DOMINIONS BEFORE THE INCAS: 900 - 1400 AD
After the decline of the complex Huari society, regional peoples –heavily influenced by the religious practices and organizational models they had been exposed to–developed to form powerful regional dominions. These included the dominions of Lambayeque and Chimú, descendants of the Moche; Chancay, Ichsma, Huarco and Chincha, as well as the Chuquibamba, Chiribaya and Killke cultures in the south. This period was marked by long distance trading and the establishment of administrative centers for the storing of resources.
CHANCAY, A TEXTILE CULTURE: 900 -1450 AD
This society emerged on Peru’s central coast and formed part of tradition of small regional chiefdoms which from around 900 AD developed rapidly and pacifically as skillful textile makers and potters. This culture developed a remarkable variety of textile techniques. These included gauze and cross-hatching, lace, double face weaving, tapestry, weft pattern, embroidery, resist dyeing and painted cloth, as well as featherwork. The Chancay also developed a variety of designs and types of textile objects, reflecting the environment in which they lived and their social development.

Chancay mantle woven with one of the emblematic techniques of this society, the openwork technique. This technique is when the warp goes straight and the weft, that goes in pairs, is intertwined and knot each vertical thread in order to made this a stable network in which it is possible to embroider designs of fish under waves.

Fragment of Chancay gauze, iconography of birds and felines. Pieces like this one involve a protective meaning for the ones who worn it in order to avoid evil spirits.

Back strap loom, used by Chancay artisans to teach the art of weaving. We can see unskilled labor in the process of placing wefts and the change of designs for teaching different forms.

Among the textile works of this culture are the fabric figurines, which were used to compose miniature scenes or dioramas, showing the daily life and ceremonies of the Chancay world.

CHIMOR KINGDOM: 900 - 1470 AD
Chimú was a powerful and organized society descended from the Moche. It developed on Peru’s northern coast.They built one of the largest mud brick cities of ancient Peru: Chan Chan. This was a great walled city composed of nine complexes, each of which contained plazas, storehouses, audience chambers and pyramids. All of these structures were surrounded by the neighborhoods inhabited by the farmers and workers who supplied the temples. The Chimú continually expanded their agricultural frontiers to the north, creating an important kingdom capable of extending its area of influence and conquering other regions, such as the territory of the Lambayeque culture. The great metalworkers and textile makers of Chimú maintained close relations with a number of other dominions, such as Chancay and Cajamarca.

Ceremonial shirt worn by a nobleman of the Chimu culture for special ceremonies, probably was placed on his grave. Piece made in plain weave, brocade and gauze technique with twisted fringes. Design of seabirds with hunted lizards in their beak.

The clothing worn by rulers was composed of three items: the turban, or cap, which provided support for the headdress or crown and, in many cases, possessed two bands that hung down on each side; the tunic, or unku, with three-quarter length sleeves; and the decorated kilt, or wara. In addition, bracelets or wristbands were worn, as well as metal ankle guards, crowns, etc. This type of clothing –made from the finest thread by the most skilful artisans– differentiated the ruling elite from the other social classes of the Chimú world.
THE INCA EMPIRE AND ITS ORGANIZATION  1200 - 1532 AD
During their early phase as a local group, the Incas skillfully established relations with neighboring groups. They formed peaceful alliances and created kinship ties among the ruling elite of other peoples. Employing different strategies, they were able to quickly assimilate other groups through diplomacy or warfare. The entire empire was supported by a complex social system overseen by the sovereign, known as the Sapa Inca. The guiding principle of Inca society was reciprocity. The vast Qhapaq Ñan road system facilitated economic and political control of the growing empire.

Inca nobility shirt; the decorative icon corresponds to the "Inca's key", is one of the first designs which have a special meaning, probably it represents the duality Hanan and Hurin and as the four regions of Incan world.

Our Museum in Lima
Our permanent collection exhibited at our seat in Lima holds 300 textiles which are examples of the first techniques used in America. We cordially invite everybody interested in broadening their knowledge about pre-Columbian textiles to pay a visit to our Museum.  http://eng.museoamano.org/visit-us/
Museo Amano
Credits: Story

Exhibition design
Museo Textil Precolombino Amano.

Presidence / Director.
Mario Amano / Mika Amano

Curatorial work:
Doris Robles / Bruno Alva

Text and research:
Maribel Medina / Bruno Alva / Doris Robles

Graphic Design:
WUD

Videos:
Mitorama Studio

Archaeological Collection / Photo:
Museo Textil Precolombino Amano

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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