Cotton; H. 82 in. (208.3 cm)
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979 (1979.206.601)
Cloth seems to have been primarily made for garments in the ancient Andestunics and loincloths for men, dresses for women, headdresses, belts, mantles, carrying cloths, and bags for both. Funerary wrappings, presumed wall hangings, and large rectangles of unknown use were also made. Chimú weavers created strikingly graphic designs through the repetition of relatively simple, abstract forms in vivid color combinations. On this hanging, worked in a complex technique called discontinuous warp and weft, stylized long-beaked birds in profile are arranged along diagonals as an infinite pattern running off the edges of the textile. The motif recalls relief sculpture decorating adobe architecture at Chan Chan, the Chimú capital located on the outskirts of the modern town of Trujillo. Woven entirely of cotton, which is native to the desert coast, its fibers are white, various shades of brown, and gray. Such natural colors were mainly used for all cotton textiles as cotton does not dye easily. Here, the blue is dyed with indigo and the darkest brown with dyes from plants containing tannin.