Humans, Beasts, Gods. Textile Treasures from Ancient Peru
Abegg-Stiftung, Riggisberg, CH
01.05. – 13.11.2022
Border fragment, Peru, southern coast, early Nazca culture, 1st to 3rd century, embroidery, cotton and camelid hair, inv. no. 42,
The Abegg-Stiftung is in possession of a small but revealing collection of textiles from Ancient Peru. The fabrics date from the period between the first century BCE and the sixteenth century. Their motifs reflect the world of the early civilizations of Peru prior to its conquest by the Europeans. They attest to the prominence given to textiles in life as in the death cult of those ancient peoples.
Most of these valuable textiles were found in the desert regions of coastal Peru. They were deposited there as offerings to the gods or buried in graves along with the dead. Many are decorative items of clothing. The climate of the coastal region is so dry that textiles buried underground survived for centuries.
Most of the weaving was done on a backstrap loom. One end of the warp was attached to a belt worn round the hips, while the other was suspended from a post. Weaving frames anchored to the ground were also used, as were wide, vertical looms operated by several people at once.
Wool and cotton are the fibres that were most commonly used to make textiles. The wool was supplied by the llamas and alpacas that roamed the Andean High Plateau. The cotton was cultivated in the coastal river valleys, where fertile oases permitted farming even in the middle of the desert.
Neck border of a tunic, Peru, southern coast, late Paracas to early Nazca culture, 2nd century BCE to 1st century AD, embroidery, cotton and camelid hair, inv. no. 460
Border fragment, Peru, southern coast, early Nazca culture, 1st to 3rd century, three-dimensional embroidery, cotton and camelid hair, inv. no. 600
Tapestry fragment, Peru, northern coast, Chimú culture, 11th to 15th century, cotton and camelid hair, inv. no. 5741
Tapestry fragment, Peru, central coast, Chancay culture, 11th to 15th century, cotton and camelid hair, inv. no. 5740
Werner Abeggstrasse 67
Postfach, CH-3132 Riggisberg