Ancient Andean Textiles at Yale University Art Gallery
‘Weaving and the Social World: 3,000 Years of Ancient Andean Textiles’ is open at Yale University Art Gallery until 18 September 2016. Woven tunics, mantles and wall hangings as well as related feather, gold and silver objects, tools and ceramics ranging in date from 900 BCE to the 16th century CE are on loan from two private collections.
Textiles from significant ancient Andean cultures including the Chancay, Chavín, Chimú, Moche, Nazca, Inca, Paracas, Sihuas and Wari are featured — societies that, lacking written languages, used textiles as the primary means of transmitting images, ideas and status. Plain weave and tapestry techniques were employed as well as scaffold weave which is unique to the Andes, with additional decoration added in embroidery, brocading, tie-dye, and feathers. Natural dyes provided a rich colour palette of over 100 shades and striking geometric patterns are common as are intricate depictions of stylised animals and deity figures.
Co-curator Dicey Taylor comments: ‘Few museums have been able to present a comprehensive exhibition of complete textiles from all of the major Andean cultures. Most have focussed on particular cultures, such as the Inca, or particular types of garments. ‘Weaving and the Social World’ is unique in its presentation of largely intact textiles, some in almost pristine condition, from the broad spectrum of Andean societies that rose and fell in ancient times.’
All works shown were collected by Bill and Ann Ziff and Justin and Barbara Kerr. On 1 September, Andrew J. Hamilton will present the lecture ‘Making a Masterpiece: The Royal Inca Tunic at Dumbarton Oaks’ on the textile recognised as the most important surviving Inca artefact (see HALI 89 pp. 84-91). Read more about ancient Andean textiles in HALI back issues via the fully searchable HALI Archive – accessible to all current subscribers via Exact Editions.