Andean Textiles

by Julia McHugh


For centuries prior to the Spanish Conquest, Andean textiles were used to express identity and ancestral belief. Considered the first art form in the region, cloth has possessed unparalleled importance in the Andes since the second millennium B.C. Textiles were powerful agents in the world of the living and the dead for numerous cultures across the region. In life, they conveyed political, social, and occupational status through their material, color, and motifs. In death, they served as wrapping for sacred mummy bundles and costumes for the afterlife. To this day, Andean textiles are both utilitarian items and instruments of ritual that embody Andean worldviews and cultural values.

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