Woman's Dress

Date: 14th–early 16th century

Geography: Peru, Chuquibamba

Culture: Chuquibamba

Medium: Camelid hair

Dimensions: H. 51 1/2 x W. 60 1/2 in. (130.8 x 153.7 cm)

Classification: Textiles-Woven

Credit Line: Purchase, Pfeiffer Fund and Arthur M. Bullowa Bequest, 1995

Accession Number: 1995.109


Ancient Peruvian garments were untailored. Of rectangular shape, this spectacular textile in brilliant red, dark blue, green, and white, woven in one piece, could have been a woman's dress (anacu) or a shoulder mantle (lliclla). As a dress, it would have been folded over along the foldline visible in the upper half of the panel, wrapped around the body, and pinned at the shoulders. In addition, a belt would have been worn around the waist to support the weight of the densely woven fabric. As a mantle or shawl, it would have been worn folded or as a single layer around the shoulders, held in place with one pin at the chest.

The textile is thought to have come from the Chuquibamba area in the far south of Peru, a region where highland and coastal traditions merge. Woven entirely of camelid fiber, the strong, saturated colors and the rectilinear pattern emphasizing geometric regularity and horizontality are typical of Inca taste. The intricate, interlocked bird designs in the small units, however, and the diagonal banded layout in the central panel correspond more to coastal styles.