Visual Archaeology Interpretation



Paracas Portrait , Painting Christiane Clados, Paracas Textile Detail

"On the desert and coastal plain of southern Peru arose cultures that were to become famous in the prehistory of that country. Between roughly 200 BC and AD 600, the people inhabiting the Nazca River system made textiles and ceramics that were of the highest technical and artistic quality. Thanks to the desert climate, many of these objects were preserved.”

To Weave for the Sun: Ancient Andean Textiles
Rebecca Stone Miller

Peru has three distinct geographic areas, the narrow coastal region, the highlands or sierra, and the far eastern rainforest region, the selva. Each region has a different variety of textiles. Great civilizations flourished in pre-Conquest Peru and boundaries extended far beyond those of today. Isolation caused the development of textiles unique to each cultural center. Still now, in the twentieth century, individual highland towns have identifying clothing and weavings. Cotton was cultivated as early as 3000 BC and became the main fiber used in coastal textiles. Wool, coming from the highlands, was precious and reserved for weft. Construction techniques on the coast varied greatly, knitting, tabby, netting, tapestry, looping, openwork, braiding, plaiting, featherwork, beading, and embroidery. Designs from Chimu, Chancay, Nazca, Paracas, and Moche cultures were influenced from their environment--great flocks of pelicans, gulls, ducks and fish. Early design related to religion, harvest symbolized by various plant forms, monsters with huge eyes, head trophies, felines, birds and serpents. Often simple geometric shapes represented these figures.

Internet Links

Ancient Peruvian Textiles

Clay and Cloth

Andes Expedition Searching for Inca Secrets

Ice Treasures of the Inca

Peru Land of the Incas: Photos by Steve Underwood

Ancestors of the Incas: Lesson Plan (PDF File)



The Culture of Paracas: The Power of Garments

















Copyright ©2004 Linda Kreft