Andean Weaving on Display
Explorer Hiram Bingam III once wrote that, “Ancient Andean weaving, as developed by the Incas, was one of the greatest textile arts the world has ever seen.” While Bingham was no textile expert––expert Andean weavers had been creating masterpieces for a thousand years before the Inca––few would disagree about the magnificence of Andean weaving (including intricate doubleweave).
Now the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City is hosting an exhibit entitled “The Andean Tunic 400 BCE-1800 CE” where thirty exquisitely woven tunics (the traditional clothing worn by Andean men) will be on display. The exhibit includes artifacts from nine different cultures, from the Ocucaje and Paracas (the first known tunic weavers in Peru) to much later Incan tunics, both pre-Columbian and colonial.
Of course, these ancient weaving techniques did not die out with the arrival of the Spanish and the end of the Incan Empire. Skilled weavers throughout Peru continue to weave much in the same manner as their ancestors. Organizations such as The Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco are keeping these traditions alive and providing the weavers with a fair income for their work.