Andean Civilizations

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The Andes Mountains extend like a spine down the western side of the South American continent.  To the east, the Amazon basin is one of the world’s great watersheds.  On the western slopes of the Andes, from Columbia and Ecuador in the north, across the great stretches of Peru, to Bolivia in the south, rivers draining the highland areas form a series of fertile valleys.  The great civilizations of the Andes developed along the Pacific shores, in the river valleys, and in the higher elevations of the region.  Coastal currents provided nutrients and rich marine resources for exploitation.

Over these vast distances, in diverse ecological zones, from sea level to well over 12,000 feet in altitude, from about 12,000 years ago to the arrival of the Spanish in the 1520s, prehistoric peoples in the Andean area developed a series of astonishing cultures of great complexity and achievement.  Objects from these cultures help tell their stories, document their accomplishments, and chronicle their rise and fall.  These are stories of political and religious organization, architectural magnificence, extensive road and trading networks, massive and skilled irrigation systems, and great artistry in metallurgy, ceramics and weaving.

All dates are BCE (Before Current Era, or BC) and CE (Current Era, or AD).

 

Colombia

The land now within the modern country of Colombia played a crucial role in the peopling of South America, because the earliest prehistoric inhabitants of the continent originally came through the geographical funnel of Central America and Panama into what is now Colombia.  The earliest archaeological evidence of habitation in Colombia dates to around 12,000 years ago.  By 2000 years ago, agricultural communities occupied many of the river valleys.  Organized as chiefdoms, many Colombian cultures produced remarkable gold-work.

 


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Vessel with Strap and Spout
Calima Culture, ca. 0-100 CE
Colombia

This unusual strap-handled vessel with spout may represent a vinegaroon, or perhaps an insect.  The pinchers turn inwards towards the protuberant mouth, and incised bands with punctations adorn the face and head.  The abdomen is decorated with incised designs on the front, sides and rear.  Calima peoples inhabited the lower reaches of the Cauca River in a series of cultures from the first millennium BCE until the Spanish conquest in 1530.  Calima cultures are known for their gold-work.

Anonymous gift facilitated by Walter Knox, Scottsdale, AZ

 

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Anthropomorphic Figure Jar
Tairona Culture, c. 1000-1550 CE
Colombia

Tairona peoples densely inhabited the northern Caribbean coast of Columbia from about 200 BCE, and they exhibited significant expansion about 1000 CE.  They lived in the area of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the highest coastal mountain range in the world at over 19,000 feet.  This figure in the form of a burnished blackware jar has facial tattooing and wears a pendant resting on a bib over his chest.  A band with enlarged ends circles the top of the forehead.  The nose ornament and plug are the most distinctive features of the sculpture.  The plug probably penetrates the lip and forces the nose ornament into a horizontal position.  Elsewhere in the Andes, the nose ornament and plug, pendant and forehead band in real life would have been rendered in metal, probably gold, as found with the burials at Sipán in the Moche area.  Tairona artisans were excellent goldsmiths.

Gift of Walter Knox, Scottsdale, AZ

 

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Retablo Figure
Quimbaya Culture, 300-800 CE
Colombia

Quimbaya peoples lived in the middle reaches of the Cauca River in Columbia, on the western slopes of the Andes.  The culture is known for its spectacular gold-work and its distinctive retablo figurines.  Quimbaya retablo figurines are flat, solid and seated with arms outstretched or attached to the knees.  On this specimen, the eyes and mouth are mere slits, while the nose is prominent with a metal nose-ring.  This ring is copper; they were often gold.  Perforations across the forehead and atop the head were for attaching feathers or some other decoration.  Holes in the torso could be for tying garments to the figure, or the image to a larger frame.  Is this an ancestor figure, placed on a home altar?  Most retablo figures were recovered from tombs, where they might have represented ancestors or served as tomb guardians.

Gift of Walter Knox, Scottsdale, AZ

 

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Seated Figure
Nariño Culture, 600-1400 CE
Southern Colombia

The figure, seated on a stool and wearing loincloth and sash, has a wad of coca leaves in his mouth.  He is a coquero, or coca chewer.  Coca, the plant source of natural cocaine, originated in the eastern Andes at elevations of 500-2000 metres.  Archaeologists have dated both coca leaves and artifacts associated with coca use as early as 8,000 years ago in Peru and in the Valdivia culture in coastal Ecuador by 5,000 years ago.  Coca was traditionally chewed for its medicinal and hallucinogenic properties, and thus had a role in everyday life in curing, religion and recreational use.  Stool, loincloth, sash and face are rendered in red, with detailing in black.  Was this man a curer, member of the elite, or just a regular guy?  Nariño culture is known for its gold-work and deep (30-40 metres) shaft tombs.

Gift of Walter Knox, Scottsdale, AZ

 

Ecuador

In archaeology, much remains to be discovered, investigated and learned.  It was not until 1956 that Ecuadorian business man and avocational archaeologist Emilio Estrada discovered the site of Valdivia and defined a previously unknown culture.  Remarkably, this is one of the earliest cultures in the New World to settle in permanent villages and to raise crops, starting as early as 3500 BCE. This transformation between hunting and gathering groups living on what nature provides and the ability to use agriculture to produce food is called the Neolithic Revolution and represents the greatest change ever seen in human lifesyles.
 
Working with American archaeologists Betty Meggars and Cifford Evans, Estrada advanced the idea that similarities between Valdivian pottery and the early Jomon pottery of Japan showed that the two areas had been in contact.  However, transcontinental contact could not be supported with any direct evidence.  Science looks into many interesting ideas, many of which are found not to be valid. It is part of the scientific process to develop well-structured ideas and to test them against actual archaeological evidence.  "The real purpose of the scientific method is to make sure nature hasn’t misled you into thinking you know something you actually don’t know."  Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

                             
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Stone Figure "Owls" 
Valdivia Culture, 2300-2000 BCE
Ecuador

These Valdivian "owls" are one of the unique types of artifacts produced by the Valdivian culture.  Valdivian artisans’ ability to make precise cuts, grooves and corners in the stone without modern tools shows a great deal of skill.  The resulting sculptures, while among the earliest in the Americas, appear remarkably modern.  These carvings might have been used as grave markers or guardian figures.

Anonymous gift facilitated by Walter Knox, Scottsdale, AZ

 

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3 Tree of Life Vessels with Applique
Jama-Coaque, 350 BCE-600 CE
Ecuador

This is a unique set of Jama-Coaque ceramics, a culture that survived from 500 BCE to 1531 CE from the forested hills to the beaches of Ecuador.  They are believed to represent a "tree of life" scene.  In Mesoamerica the tree of life is the Ceiba tree, whose trunk, the Axis Mundi, connected the underworld with our world on the surface of the earth and to the worlds of the sky and was the point where the six directions (north, south, east, west, zenith and nadir) came together.  The pastel colors of these polychrome vessels were not fired on the vessel but were added later.  It is "fugitive" or easily removed.  The paint on this example is well preserved for this type of ceramic.

Anonymous gift facilitated by Walter Knox, Scottsdale, AZ

 

Peru

Moche

Moche culture flourished along a 370 mile swath of the north coast of Peru, from about 100-800 CE.  Along lush valleys and in the hinterland, farmers grew maize, beans, squash and cotton.  Moche peoples constructed sophisticated irrigation works to water their crops.  In addition to working the land, the Moche made use of marine resources.  They built ceremonial centers with great pyramids and sacrificed captives to ensure the well-being of the state.  Moche artists produced incredible works in gold and copper, and Moche ceramics display an extraordinary creativity in form and design.

 


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Stirrup Vessel of Woman with Offering
Moche I, 100-300 CE
North Coast of Peru

This exquisite stirrup vessel shows a woman holding and carefully shielding a San Pedro cactus.The San Pedro cactus was used for healing and religious divination based upon one of its active ingredients, mescaline.  She is wrapped in a tunic, half of which is painted red and the other half is the color of the beige clay of the vessel.  Her face is finely worked and neatly decorated, and the front of her garment displays red dots.

Anonymous gift facilitated by Walter Knox, Scottsdale, AZ

     

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Stirrup Spout Bottle
Moche I, c. 100 BCE-200 CE
North Coast of Peru

This vessel has geometric designs in red or brown over half of the buff bottle, and on the opposite side of the spout.  The body of the bottle has four solid forms with pairs of circles resembling eyes.  On the shoulder of the spout seems to be an image of a reptile or insect.  The bodies of stirrup spout vessels were made in a mold and then the spouts were added.  Moche ceramics were typically slipped, painted and burnished.

Gift of Walter Knox, Scottsdale, AZ 

 

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Stirrup Vessels, Matched Pair with Ai Apec Deity
Moche IV, 400 CE
North Coast of Peru

This rare matched pair of mold-made stirrup vessels display the image of Ai Apec, the chief deity of the Mochica on the north coast of Peru.  The god is identified by the characteristic feline fangs and associated serpent imagery.  These vessels show Ai Apec with feathered serpent headdress and belt, each with eight serpent segments.  The feet are similarly depicted as serpent heads, and serpent heads emerge on both sides of the bases of the spout.

Anonymous gift facilitated by Walter Knox, Scottsdale, AZ 

 
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Portrait Vessel
Moche, c. 400-500 CE
North Coast of Peru

Portrait heads are a characteristic form of Moche ceramics.  They depict high status individuals of unknown identity in the form of jars or stirrup spout vessels.  This man wears a headband with two long-necked birds connected to a chin strap secured by fasteners with back-swept parallel lines.  He wears ear ornaments of a type found at the site of Sipán, and he seems to have studs across his upper lip and onto his face.  These details are emphasized in beige.

Gift of Walter Knox, Scottsdale, AZ


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Stirrup Vessel with Applique Figures
Moche IV, 450-650 CE
North Coast of Peru

What story is this remarkable ceramic telling?  This bottle is in the form of a feline with bared canines on which are sculpted figures in low relief rendered in red on a buff ground.  On the animal’s right side is a warrior about to club a serpent with a mace.  His headdress may represent a fish or whale, from which two feathers descend.  Below the warrior are a marine ray and a bear-like creature with something round in its mouth.  A human figure, perhaps a child, hugs the feline’s neck on its left side.  The serpent in the grasp of the warrior curves under the chest of the feline and circles over a mummy bundle.  Is the story of a life from birth to death?  A mythological tale?

Gift of Walter Knox, Scottsdale, AZ

 

MocheStirrupVessel

Stirrup Vessel with Two Figures
Moche, 200—800 CE
North Coast of Peru

At first glance this stirrup vessel with two figures appears simple, but the Moche craftsman actually provides much detail.  The two figures sit closely together, with the outer arms and legs of the two showing in front.  The smaller person may be holding a flute.  Viewers are rewarded for looking closely at objects of material culture.  How are the figures engaged with each other?  Are the features sharp or dull?  What is the pattern of color?  Are there hats or hair, jewelry, bags or other accoutrements?  What is the story the artist wished to convey to the viewer?  Detailing is characteristic of Moche ceramic art, and ancient viewers would undoubtedly know the significance of the imagery.

Bequest of Lester K. and Rosalyn W. Olin

 

Nazca

Nazca civilization flourished on the south coast of Peru contemporaneously with the Moche in the north, 100 BCE to 700 CE.  The Nazca heartland was in the Ica and Nazca River drainages and to the highlands to the east.  Nazca is justifiably famous for the great "Nazca Lines," the large scale anthropomorphic and geometric designs marked in the ground in the desert areas of the Nazca region.  Some of the lines might have been related to rituals concerning water, a major concern and focus for the Nazca.  Perhaps others have astronomical significance.  Nazca ceramics are notable for their distinctive polychrome decorations of animals such as felines, reptiles, sea creatures, llamas, foxes and hummingbirds.  Plants depicted include maize, beans, chili peppers and others.

 


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Nazca Double Spouted Vessel with Hummingbirds
Early Nazca, c. 300-400 CE
South Coast of Peru

This delightful vessel depicts 11 hummingbirds outlined in black and painted in shades of reds, browns and grey-greens on a cream colored field.  Naturalistic hummingbirds were a motif in Early Nazca ceramic decoration.  The birds are shown in various poses to fill the design.  One of the Nazca Lines is a hummingbird.

Gift of Walter Knox, Scottsdale, AZ

 

 
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Small Jar with Mythical Creature
Nazca, c. 400-500 CE
South Coast of Peru

Mythical creatures are another motif of Nazca iconography.  This figure appears on jars and bowls, and has mixed human and animal attributes.  The lower face broadens outwards in whiskers or ears, and the tongue is greatly extended.  The forelegs end in nails, but the body of the creature is serpentine.  The design is rendered in colors of red, brown, crème, drab green and black, in a register above the slight shoulder of the vessel.

Gift of Walter Knox, Scottsdale, AZ


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Double Spouted Human Effigy Vessel
Late Nazca, c. 500-700 CE
South Coast of Peru

This figure wears a cape on which are two figures, perhaps deities, with tendrils extending outwards from the facial form and re-curving at the ends.  This feature marks the design as Late Nazca.  He holds two decorated sticks, perhaps hunting, agricultural or military implements.  He wears his hair in bangs on the front and longer at the sides, and an interlaced band holds his headpiece in place.  Was he a warrior, farmer, trader?

Gift of Walter Knox, Scottsdale, AZ

 

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Pair of Double Spouted and Strap Jars
Nazca, ca. 400-600 CE
South Coast of Peru

Each small jar has a double spout and strap handles painted chocolate brown.  On the crème colored upper shoulder of the vessels the potter has painted faces surrounded by petals or rays, possibly suggesting the sun.  The larger faces have open eyes, those on the side closed, perhaps indicating day and night.

Gift of Walter Knox, Scottsdale, AZ

 

Wari

Wari (Spanish Huari) culture developed in the central and southern Peruvian highlands in the area of Ayacucho beginning about 500 CE, and the Wari Empire ultimately spread along most of the coast of Peru.  Originally, Wari had strong ties to Tiwanaku near Lake Titicaca in Bolivia, and its ceramics show Nazca influence.  The Wari built in dressed stone, created large rectangular residential areas and constructed terraced agricultural plots watered by irrigation.  They developed a road system and regional administrative network that were models for the later Inka Empire.

 

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Sea Lion Effigy and Beaker Double Vessel
Wari, c. 500-800 CE
Peru

The front part of this double vessel depicts a sea lion with toothy mouth, molded whiskers, ovoid eyes and small ears.  All coastal Peruvian cultures made use of the abundant marine resources of the rich coastal waters.  On the side of the lower part of the vessel are black lines suggestive of flippers.  The beaker at the rear is connected to the effigy by an upper strap and lower hollow tube through which liquids could flow and be poured out the mouth of the seal.  Both the chest of the animal and the rim of the beaker are decorated with volutes and geometric designs.  Flared beakers are known as kero, and among other uses held beer called chicha made from fermented maize, manioc, potatoes, or other fruits and vegetables.  Chicha was drunk on both ceremonial and secular social occasions.

Gift of Walter Knox, Scottsdale, AZ

 

Lambayeque

Regional States (900 – 1430)

After the dissolution of the Wari Empire, regional states arose in the period around 900 to 1430 CE, until the area was again unified under the Inka state.  From north to south along the Peruvian coast the regional states were:  Lambayeque in the north part of the old Moche area, Chimú with its capitol at Chan Chan, Chancay in the area north of present day Lima, and Ica in the old Nazca area.

The late Moche center of Pampa Grande was burned and abandoned about 700 CE.  Following the collapse of the Wari Empire about two hundred years later, Sicán culture arose in the Lambayeque region.  At sites like Batán Grande, Sicán peoples built great pyramids for burial and ritual purposes, constructed monumental irrigation works, continued metal-working traditions, conducted trade over long distances and were socially stratified.


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Stirrup Vessel
Lambayeque, 900-1375 CE
North Coast of Peru

This anthropomorphic stirrup vessel has the head of a human on the body of an animal, including a long curved tail.  Frogs occur on the curve of the stirrup.  Head, spout and accents are red on a buff body.

Gift of Walter Knox, Scottsdale, AZ

 

Chimú

The capital of Chimú was Chan Chan, situated at the mouth of the Moche Valley.  Begun around 850 CE, Chan Chan grew to cover about eight square miles, and Chimú culture ultimately extended 800 miles along the Peruvian coast, with major expansions about 1200 and 1400.   Chan Chan’s architecture is notable for large residential palace compounds of adobe brick, perhaps the homes of elite lords and their descent groups.  Artisans produced metallurgy and textiles of the highest quality, and the city had specified areas for trade.  Llamas, the pack animals of ancient Peru, were buried in platforms at these terminals.  Craft production and trade were major elements of the Chimú economy.  Although there are fine examples of Chimú pottery, much ceramic production was mold-made and mass produced in a smudging atmosphere yielding a black finish.

 

 
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Stirrup Vessel with Toucans and Monkey
Early Chimú, 900-1250 CE
North Coast of Peru

The little monkey at the junction between the stirrup and spout is characteristic of Chimú ceramics, as are the toucans at the intersection of the stirrup and the body of the jar.  Chimú ceramics are mold-made and mass produced.  Most are fired in a reducing atmosphere, which produced a black color.  A small percentage were fired in an oxidizing atmosphere, which produced reddish-brown pottery. 

Gift of Walter Knox, Scottsdale, AZ

 
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Stirrup Vessel
Chimú, 900-1450 CE 
North Coast of Peru

A characteristic form of Chimú ceramics was the stirrup and spout vessel with a spherical body.  The upper half of the body of this bottle is divided into four areas, two on each side of the stirrup.  The right-hand image on each side depicts a human form with headdress; the left-hand image shows a seabird and fish.  The dots defining the background are a common feature of Chimú pottery, as is the little knob at the intersection of the stirrup and spout.  The bands around the bottom and across the top of the jar are carelessly painted black.

Gift of Walter Knox, Scottsdale, AZ 

 
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Effigy Bottle with Strap Handle
Chimú, 900-1450 CE
North Coast of Peru

This is the typical mold-made black Chimú ceramic.  The animal’s head resembles a sea lion, but its arms have digits rather than flippers, so the animal could be a generic feline.  It has a long tail.  Under the neck, one may see the line where the two clay halves from the mold were carelessly joined.  The raised stippling on the body of the animal is characteristic of Chimú ceramics, and could provide visual effect or texture to facilitate gripping.

Gift of Linda Gonzalez, Los Angeles, CA

 

Chancay

Chancay culture arose on the central Peruvian coast in the Lima area, after the fall of the Wari Empire around 1000 CE, where it survived until approximately 1450 CE.  The central coast is a largely desert environment but includes fertile valleys that were used as irrigated farmland.  The ocean itself was the greatest source of dietary protein and fishing was important to the Chancay way of life.  Populations were politically linked but there was no overarching government.  The architecture was unremarkable with buildings made of poured adobe or tapia.  Chancay ceramics are distinctive for brown-black decoration on a poor quality white slip with the red of the terracotta often visible.  They are renowned for their textiles.  Artifacts are typically found in burials, which have a high frequency of being looted due to their proximity to Lima. 


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Female Figure
Chancay 800-1200 CE
Central Coast of Peru, Lima Area

Most standing figurines, cuchimilcos, were produced as a paired set of male and female.  The function is not known but they are often found in tombs and it is believed they were thought to ward off bad spirits or serve as guardians for the dead.  This Chancay female, hollow, brown-black on white figure has a flattened triangular head and standard masked eyes.  It is symmetrical with outstretched arms originally from another piece. Perforations along the top of the head were likely decorated with feathers.  Some clothing is painted on in gray-black geometric decoration, with diagonal rows of small stylized fish on both sides of her poncho.  It may have been dressed with cloth originally.

Gift of Walter Knox, Scottsdale, AZ

 

 
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Female Figure of Wood
Chancay 800-1200 CE
Central Coast of Peru, Lima Area

This female figure is carved from wood and depicted holding a cup (kero).  The eyes are made of shell and the pupils are brown paint.  Black, red and white paints decorate the face and portions of the body.  In its original condition it would have been adorned in cloth and may even had real human hair on its head.  Wood was more commonly used for facial masks than full figures such as this.  It is unclear if, as is the case with ceramic anthropomorphic figures, this wooden figure was part of a paired male and female set.

Gift of Walter Knox, Scottsdale, AZ

 

             
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Effigy Jar
Chancay 800-1200 CE
Central Coast of Peru, Lima Area

This large, anthropomorphic, brown-black on white with red egg-shape jar depicts a figure wearing a crown like headdress with relief and holding a cup or kero.  Chancay ceramic style is unusual for this period for the absence or rarity of stirrup spouts, double spout and bridge bottles, or polychrome slip paint, which are found in the preceding as well as contemporaneous and neighboring cultures.  Made in two-piece molds, Chancay pottery was often bulbous in shape and made from terracotta clay.  As the figure lacks any gender signifying features it is unknown if it represents a male or female.  Little is known about Chancay cultural and social habits but the headdress may indicate this represents a person of status.

Gift of Walter Knox, Scottsdale, AZ

 
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Large Bulbous Figure with Bottle
Chancay 800-1200 CE
Central Coast of Peru, Lima Area

This large bulbous brown-black on white figure has a bottle strapped to her back and wears a geometrically decorated headband or hat that includes clay ornamentation.  In life Chancay women wore head cloths with complex designs and patterns.  The figure’s hands cover the straps to carry the bottle and her stomach appears slightly distended.  The distinctive eye decoration is believed to symbolize human fertility, therefore making it probable the figure is female and potentially of divine character.  Flawed ceramics are common, perhaps due to firing large batches in large kilns.  Unlike textiles, painted ceramics were available to and used by all levels of society.

Gift of Walter Knox, Scottsdale, AZ

 

FuneraryMask

Funerary Mask
Chancay, 1300—1450 CE
Central Coast of Peru, Lima Area

This magnificent mask sat atop a mummy bundle.  It is painted red, with prominent, sharp-featured nose and small smiling mouth.  Its head is swathed in cloth, with black hair protruding.  Chancay dead were revered, cared for, and revisited by descendants.  The deceased might be wrapped in beautiful woven textiles, face covered with a mask, and surrounded by offerings in the characteristic black or brown on grey effigy ceramics.

Bequest of Lester K. and Rosalyn W. Olin

 

Textiles & Blankets

Chimú Textiles

Textiles from cotton, llama and vicuña wool, but mostly alpaca wool, were usually woven in a plain weave.  Fibers were typically dyed with red (cochineal) and other bright colors (plants and minerals).  Single rectangular pieces of cloth became loincloths, shirts, tunics, ponchos and bags. 

 Embellishments included brocades, embroidery, paint, feathers, gold or silver plates.  Garments of the elite might be adorned with feathers or metallic appliqués.  Sea birds and aquatic life were common motifs, reflecting this coastal group's relationship to the sea; also spirals, geometrics, and stylized humans. Some elements occurred in earlier Moche culture.  Textile designs are repeated in architectural wall reliefs. Great quantities of textiles were buried with the Chimú dead.

 

 
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Woven Blanket with Eight Figures, 40" x 84"
Lambayeque/Chimú, ca. 1000-1400 CE
North Coast of Peru

This plain-weave blanket has a design of eight embroidered human/mythical figures.  Four figures appear in each row, alternating in an inverse red and cream pattern; the pattern alternates again by row.  Each figure wears a single crescent headdress and ear spools.  The blanket ends are decorated with a striped border, embellished with woven bird effigies that alternate in an inverse yellow and brown pattern.  The primary decoration is framed by these borders and the red finishing fringe. Stains on the surface may be from human decomposition indicating use as a shroud. 
 
The figures resemble what is known as a Peruvian moon animal; they share the crescent headdress associated with this being.  The moon animal is often represented in animal form but can appear as a human.  The pattern of alternating "positive" and "negative" figures may reflect a tendency for the moon animal to appear in pairs or may just provide contrast.  Moon animals are found in the Moche period in a variety of forms.  Typical Chimú design characteristics include: repeating elements; alternating inverse patterns; standardized human figures in a front-facing pose, arms outstretched, legs bent and feet turned out.  Ear spools are objects commonly found in the Chimú area.

Anonymous gift facilitated by Walter Knox, Scottsdale, AZ

 

Chancay Textiles

The Chancay used llama wool, cotton, and feathers as resources in the spinning and weaving processes. Weaving was used to make everyday items like clothing and bags, as well as specialty items such as funerary masks.  Techniques used to create decoration in fabric included decorated gauzes, brocade, embroidery, and painted woven fabric.  Common motifs included geometric patterns, zoomorphic and marine motifs, and anthropomorphic figurines done in colors of whites, shades of brown and yellow, reds, blues, and greens.  Most popular were the crescent head-dressed "deity" and bird motifs.  Textiles are known from their abundance in Chancay tombs: people with rank had many grave goods, including textiles; commoners had only a few and a bundle with undecorated fabric.
 
Like craft specialists anywhere today, the Chancay weaver possessed a personal toolkit.  These "weaver's kits" have been recovered in large numbers from funerary contexts and contain remarkably similar items but are not always identical.  The kit includes tools that this weaver used in spinning fibers and weaving, as well as the products of the craft.

 

 
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Weaver’s Kit
Chancay 900-1430 CE
Central Coast of Peru, Lima Area

This Weaver's Kit contains most things necessary for the weaver to accomplish the task, and it all stows away in one handy lidded basket.  The contents include items for spinning and for weaving.
 
For spinning:  unworked sticks for use, or fashioning into spindles; a number of decorated and undecorated spindles, with and without spindle whorls; a bundle of spindles wrapped with cord; and spindles with spun fiber wound around the shaft.  
 
For weaving:  a rolled up back strap loom with the weaving attached, and heddles and shed stick in place; a back strap for belting the loom around the waist; a number of shed sticks, battens, picks and other weaving tools.  
 
Some of the finished woven products include a bag, a textile fragment, a bundle of felt, and bundles of cordage and strap that may have served to tether the loom, or just been products of a days' work.  Of some interest, is a variety of "personal possessions" (perhaps granting spiritual protection or insuring success) included in the kit: a gourd, a polished stone, a "God's Eye", a drilled bone, some pendants, and a miniature Cuchimilco.  The latter is of particular note, as these items in a larger size are ubiquitous in Chancay culture (See the Chancay section for an example).  The miniature shares many of the same attributes that characterize the larger Cuchimilco.

Gift of Walter Knox, Scottsdale, AZ 

 
 
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Loom Posts with Carved Finials
Chancay, 1000-1400 CE
Central Coast of Peru, Lima Area

Two wood loom supports have matching carved finials with standing figures that surmount the posts.  The figures wear crescent headdresses similar to other Chancay images.  Unlike some Chancay loom post figures, which can have quite ornate headdresses, these figures have a simplified crescent with rounded and undecorated features.  The overall appearance of the figures is rounded rather than geometric.  Facial features include almond-shaped eyes, a rather large triangular nose, and a simplified expressionless mouth on a rounded face.  Like a guardian of the loom, the figures stand erect, unclothed and unadorned, with arms straight at their sides, and knees bent, but turned straight ahead. 
 
The posts have seven roughly square mortise holes that secured the upper and lower horizontal warp beams of the loom.  The seven positions would allow the beams to be moved up or down for sizing, as well as positioning for work.  This configuration for a fixed-frame loom allows greater flexibility for wider textiles to be woven than is possible with the back strap loom.  It is possible that the special figures on the finials provided some protective advantage for the weavers, or for the spirit of the work or the cloth itself.

Gift of Walter Knox, Scottsdale, AZ

 

 
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Child’s Poncho, 20" x 36"
Chancay/Inka, 1200-1500 CE
Central Coast of Peru

This textile, a partial split tapestry weave, has an intricate design of many colors.  Of typical construction, two joined woven panels make a larger cloth.  Looking closely, though, this cloth is a patchwork of many small rectangular cloths.  A slit along half the center seam forms an opening to create a poncho or shirt.  The small size may suggest a child's shirt, but unusual in that many children's ponchos lack design and are not dyed.  This dyed fabric is covered with a repeat of designs: many alternating smaller and larger human figures, in tunics, lined up holding hands.  Color combinations of outline and fill vary among the figures' tunics in groups of eight to ten.  The group is repeated in rows across the entire field, seeming to continue indefinitely until a horizontal border, in a red and a dark tan stripe, abruptly stops them.  This is a very complex design for a garment of an ordinary citizen. The poncho confirms the special status of the wearer.
 
This textile shares much with the Chimú textile: the standardized human figure, now in "sickle-shaped" headdress; repeating elements; and alternating inverse patterns.  These features are often seen in Chancay textiles.  Given the quantity found, repeated like-design, construction technique, and spinning characteristics, possibly the textiles were mass produced for the robust regional trade.  Certainly a high level of artistic competence was achieved.  Also, care was taken in piecing this garment to maintain the "line of eight/ten figures" pattern, but the sequencing of color combinations had to be sacrificed in many instances.  Were patches used to extend the life of the garment?  If so, it is evidential that textiles were standardized to such a degree that fabric itself could be recycled for repairs; much like today, excess denim may patch a pair of beloved jeans.

Anonymous gift facilitated by Walter Knox, Scottsdale, AZ

 

 
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Painted Textile, 26" x 52"
Chancay, ca. 900-1200 CE
Central Coast of Peru

This cloth has a natural background and design painted in a light shade of brown.  The lower edge has a border of narrow brocades in alternating shades of brown/cream.  A further adornment, a dark brown woven strip with fringe finish, is sewn to the brocaded edge.  The cloth is constructed from three vertical panels, each with a similar but not identical design, sewn edge to edge to form a horizontal finished piece.  The edge finish was attached to the panels after joining.  Each panel is a loosely woven, gauze-like typical plain-weave, but with a two thread warp and a single thread weft.  Some staining suggests use as a burial cloth; the single-sided edge treatment may indicate an altar cloth or manta.
 
The complex designs are interesting, geometric forms described as either a snake or lizard.  These three designs share common parts, but the parts are put together differently to create slightly different constructions.  It is unclear how these figures fit into Chancay iconography.  Whether a snake, a lizard, or some other representation, care has been taken to make them similar yet individual in their own right.

Gift of Walter Knox, Scottsdale, AZ

 

Tiwanaku

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Tiwanaku, Bolivia: Gateway of the Sun

Tiwanaku (Tiahuanacu) culture is named for the archaeological site of Tiwanaku that lies around the shores of Lake Titicaca in the Andean highlands.  At 12,630 feet in altitude, Tiwanaku was one of the highest cities anywhere in the ancient world.  It was central to a civilization that extended from northern Chili and northwestern Argentina through highland Bolivia and Peru between 300 and 1000 CE.  Tiwanaku was important as the center of a regional state system that predated the Inka Empire.  It occupied a strategic position between the high-resource area of Lake Titacaca and the dry Altiplano.  Agriculturally it depended on a system of "flooded-raised fields," in which mounds planted with crops were separated by shallow canals.  Its population comprised farmers, pastoralists, and specialized artisans of ceramic, textile, and ornamental goods.  Tiwanaku society was stratified, with elites controlling a distribution system of goods and services to the rest of the populace.

 

 
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Basketry Vessel
Tiwanaku, 300-1000 CE
Andean Highlands, Bolivia

This small basket has everted sides and basic construction with pleasing decorative elements that elevate it from the ordinary.  It has either been well used or has just weathered the ravages of time, but still manages a flare for simple elegance.  It is made on a coiled bundle foundation with a closed weave and a self rim (i.e., rim and body have the same stitch style).  With a coil count of 8 coils/inch and 18 stitches/inch, it has a fine rather than a coarse weave. 
 
The design mirrors the form of the basket, emphasizing the outward reach of the side walls.  The black and red "step and wave" pattern designs are narrower at the base and expand towards the top.  The design must follow the form.  But almost as though accommodating this, each step breaks open at the rise to the next step into a volute, an angular open spiral.  It is as though the design is implemented to allow further expansion.  This lends fluidity to an otherwise angular design.  The design is repeated around the basket, as well as vertically.  The rim terminates the next level of design before it reaches completion, giving the impression that the vessel extends beyond its own boundaries.  The exemplary gracefulness gives this basket a simple elegance.

Gift of Walter Knox, Scottsdale, AZ

 

 
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Basketry "Olla"
Tiwanaku, 300-1000 CE
Andean Highlands, Bolivia

This basket is made on a basic coiled bundle foundation, has a self rim, and a closed, fine weave (8 coils/inch, 16 stitches/inch).  The form of the basket is distinctive.  The body is globular with a narrower neck and everted opening.  The body rests on a single coil sewn to the base by the same wefting as the whole; this lifts it slightly lending a certain singularity to the piece.  Side handles, with braided edges, join just below the rim to attach at the shoulder, and stand out as a different technique applied to the basket; the effect is charming.  A fine black line on one coil separates the neck from the body.  Stepped right triangles encircle the body; every other triangle is vertically offset, and the direction of the stepping is reversed.  Alternating reversals such as these are often used as a means of attaining visual balance in a piece but may also have symbolic attributes.  These designs continue onto the base of the basket where they lose their patterning with reduced coil size.
 
This is an unusual form of basket in a two-handled olla shape.  There are not many examples of Tiwanaku basketry, so it is difficult to state just how unusual.  As baskets tend to preserve less well than their ceramic counterparts, they are often thought of as having been part of the technology of a culture some time before their appearance.  Basketry forms and designs often became later replicated in ceramic counterparts.  This form of vessel also occurs in Tiwanaku ceramics.

Gift of Walter Knox, Scottsdale, AZ