The textile offered here dates back to a period from 800-1200 A.D. and is attributed to the ancient Pre-Spanish Chimu Culture. It is rare for textiles to survive from a period this old but due to the extreme dryness of the desert environment, woven textiles from this area do survive and they offer us a fantastic glimpse into the organic world of these ancient peoples.
This is an unusual UNFINISHED textile showing a repeating pattern in a rare BLUE dyed fiber woven with a white fiber in a geometric pattern. One can only speculate why it remained unfinished as every textile we have seen has always a complete pattern finished to the end of the edge. The top edge is finished by the ancient weaver and lightly colored. A weaving such as this would have been reserved for only the most noble and elite of their day.
Unlike most Pre-Columbian textiles seen for sale, this specimen has NOT been enhanced with any modern dye or re-sewing.
The western coastal desert region of South America is considered the most arid place on our planet. Because of this, it has protected ancient objects n near perfect preservation where most other regions of the world would have claimed them to rot and decay. One of the most famous historical artifacts of Pre-Spanish archaeology in this region is ancient textiles of the former native American empires that once thrived there over 1000 years ago. Preserved as if many were made just yesterday, these woven textiles shed amazing insight on the mind, beliefs and practices of this ancient peoples. In their world, these woven fabrics were prized greater than gold or silver. The possession of these colorful and intricately woven textiles were a show to all that their owners were amongst the most noble and richest members of the society of that day.
The ancient textiles of this region and peoples were made up of hand spun and woven fibers. These fibers were either cotton or the wool of indigenous camelids that included the llama, alpaca, guanaco and vicuna. Some textiles were made of dyed fibers, used alternatively with different colors to create patterns. Some textiles were woven of a few or single primary color with the design hand-painted on the cloth after the weaving was completed. Other textiles were embroidered and even appliqués of gold or silver were added within the weaving. Aside from burial mantles, woven garments included sleeveless shirts with or without fringes, small ponchos, tunics and loincloths.
Formal excavations at many of these Pre-Columbian cemeteries revealed that the many of the individual mummies were interred with only a single rough cotton wrapping. Others were wrapped with one or two ordinary cotton cloths, devoid of design or color. The richest graves consisted of individuals elaborately wrapped with two or three mantles decorated with patterns, colorful dyes and even more rarely, with embroidered borders of intricate designs.
The design and iconography of the textiles of ancient west coastal South America sheds light upon the societal, economic and religious institutions that their world was based upon. Some of the imagery appears as if the artisans were recording actual events in the fabric. Other designs were possibly evidence of weavers documenting astronomical observations or religious prophecies. The surreal and intriguing figures and designs leave us with more wonder and mystery of these enigmatic peoples than they explain.