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Peruvian Textiles

When the Spanish Conquistadores decided to take over The Incan Empire they only had eyes for the gold but not for their unique textile practices. The textiles were used to explain their cultural beliefs. The Incan textile was inherited by pre-Inca cultures. In the time of the Incas a textile production was obtained mainly from the Tahuantinsuyo. Also, the in writings of the observations made by the chroniclers, it can be seen that the dresses Incas had portrayed different elements, especially utilitarian, social, economic and religious.

The dresses were one of the elements evaluated within the system of redistribution and reciprocity to the high status people; for example, in the displacements of the Inca, their slaves were distributing to clothes and dresses to the high status people and local groups. Therefore, the State Inca needed to count with a great amount of weaves to satisfy the demand done by the town Inca. In order to fulfill this demand, they decided that the “acllahuasis” were dedicated to make diverse dresses or clothes.

The textile Incas made were characterize by their geometric designs or tocapus and their uniquely of their technique. The Incas were very well known by their carpets and their mantles of feathers, also of geometric designs. They had an extraordinary sense of the symmetry, reflected in the repetition of streamlined figures it had in a very organized matter. Though their textiles they expressed their world view, their sense of the space and its divisions. They were mainly used as symbols of social level. The famous ponchos red with black and red in the center destined only to the generals close friends to the Inca.

The geometric designs that appears in some textiles, also served to identify the Incas and their families. From the political vision the textiles represented interchangeable treasures as well as taxable products that united to the empire and the new land they would conquered. Chavin (900-200 BCE) The Chavin Structure was done of stone (Litico Art) and were related to their religion since they created their works inspired by their Gods that had features of felines, like the God Jaguar. The Chavin craftsmen represented strange, animal objects like jaguars and eagles.

Their makings were represented in their different arts like ceramics, jewelry, textiles and architectonic sculptures. Many Chavin sculptures represent the transformation of a human head in the head of a jaguar. There are sculptures where the use of psychotropic substances is seen “cactus of San Pedro” for religious aims. The heads of stone and the monoliths (Lanzon, Estela Raimondi and Obelisco Tello) are the best sculptural expression of the Chavin technique. There are three periods of the production of the Chavin ceramics.

Three periods of cultural development were identified. Urubarriu, Chakinani, and Janabarriu. Urabarriu period, includes the phase in the early stages. During this period Chavin de Huantar was in a zone with small residential zones that lodged to several hundreds of people. People were dedicated mainly to the hunting and in this stage the Chavin began to harvest corn and potatoes. The ceramics of the Urabarriu phase highly is influenced by other cultures. During the Urabarriu phase, the archaeological evidence suggests dispersed centers of production of the ceramics, probably in response to a low demand of the dispersed population.

Chakinani period, is the middle stage. During this time the residences emigrated and surrounded the ceremonial center by Chavin de Huantar. During the Chakinani phase in Chavin one began to domesticate the llama and the hunting of red deer was reduced. There was a greater communication with distant civilizations. Janabarriu Period the final stage, where there was a numerical increase of the population. The establishments assumed the characteristics of the urban centers with valleys densely populated and some communities in zones with high altitude.

During this phase one sees the social differentiation and the specialization of the work. The ceramics of Chavin was polished of color black, brown dark, gray or grayish with incisions, applications and carving. The typical forms of the ceramic are bottles with long neck, plates and earthen bowls. Ceramics with decoration were made and used with ceremonial aim. Wari (450 -1000 CE. ) The Waris extended their territories by means of war and spread the cult to the associated Wiracocha to Tiahuanaco.

When they expanded, they constructed great cities to control their territory, constructed to create ways for the communication and diffusion of the Quechua language. Also the Wari carpets that were manufactured during 500 AD are considered the finest of the world, as much by their aesthetic beauty by their images. Cotton and wool of vicuna were used to make carpets and textiles. The architecture Wari is distinguishing in many of its provinces, these centers are clearly different from the architecture of the Tiahuanaco culture, which makes many scholars to insist on the political independence of these two political organizations.

Although Wari is not well known for their capacity on the administrative structure, because they did not leave any written document, the emphasis in the administrative homogenous architecture and the significant social stratification suggests a complex social-political hierarchy. The architectonic structures of Wari were very distinguished; typically great rectangular enclosures, had in a landlord grid with places and patios. The buildings were great administrative centers and residences of the elite, with numerous scenery that depicted a uniform way.

Wari, the capital, had around forty thousand inhabitants, was a walled urban nucleus, of houses and several public buildings, constructed with stones and mud. The ceramics of the Huari had influence of three cultures in particular: culture Nazca, influenced by the practices of its ceramics created great multicolored ceramic pieces. From Culture Huarpa, they obtained its manufacturing techniques of potteries. From Tiahuanaco culture, they obtained the culture of the pictorial inspiration and reasons for its ceramics.

In addition one affirms that the Wari culture is the synthesis of those three cultures. Tiahuanaco (300 BC) The architectonic Complex of Tiwanaku is located to 20 kilometers to the south of the Lake Titicaca. It’s an urban compound of administrative and religious buildings that surround the semisunk places and platforms. To the center of this complex is the building of Kalasasaya. La Puerta o Portada del Sol, is found on the platform of the Kalasasaya, it was the most important ceremonial temple of the archaeological set of the Tiwanaku.

It measures 3 meters of height by 3. 75 meters of width; its weight calculates in 12 tons. Also, Kalasasaya is the door that gives access to the most important ceremonial places of Tiwanaku, constructed with great stones of 5 meters of height, some blocks weigh more than 100 tons and were brought from great distances that vary of 10 to 300 kilometers. Other well-known constructions are: the Semiunderground Pavilion, Keri Cala, Putuni, Laka Kollu; and the pyramids Akapana, Pumapunku and Wila Pukara, that served as residence for the sacerdotal elite.

However, much of the Tiwanaku architecture could not have been conserved due to the little resistance of the “adobe” against the severe climatic conditions. Ceramics the Tiwanaku style presents symmetrical details with a combination of the colors black, ocher, red, white and gray. The more common type of container is “kero”, decorated in one of the sides with a face of apparently human forms, presented in low relief. Other examples of the Tiahuanaco pottery are: large bottles with short neck, globular pitchers with vertical handles, pitchers of double container with Handle Bridge, and containers in the form of birds and human heads.

Containers ornamented with fruits or plants are not known. The designs include geometric art with concentric circles. There was a strong emphasis on the “planta de maiz,” which translates to the corn. Conclusion I depicted a few cultures that caught my attention the most, but the Incan history has been depicted in so many different ways. There is the most knowledgeable part which archeologists contribute with their different excavations and artifacts, but there is also the people that share their memories through word of mouth.

In this paper I combined different sources such as articles by archeologist and people’s opinions and facts. Finally, it was an amazing opportunity to learn more about my culture and now I can actually engage in conversations when I go to Peru about my history, because I have a well round background of the different cultures in Peru. Thank you for the amazing lectures professor and I appreciate that you are teaching and making many more people aware of the beauty of the Peruvian history involving the Inca and its different cultures.

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