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Culture:Pre-Columbian, Wari Culture
Title:Poncho fragment with pampas cats
Date Made:c. 500-1000 AD; the Middle Horizon
Type:Wall Hanging
Materials:Warp: cotton; weft: camelid wool
Place Made:South America; Peru
Measurements:mount: 29 5/16 in x 42 1/4 in; 74.5 cm x 107.3 cm; sheet: 10 3/4 in x 31 1/2 in; 27.3 cm x 80 cm
Accession Number:  AC T.1933.6
Credit Line:Gift of George D. Pratt (Class of 1893)
Museum Collection:  Mead Art Museum at Amherst College

Label Text:
This is a fragment from a tapestry tunic, a uniform for officers of the Wari civilization of the central Andes. Many such fragments have been misattributed to the Tiwanaku or even Nasca cultures, which overlapped with the Wari in temporal and geographical extent. This fragment was likely found as a mummu wrapping in the central or southern coast of mmodern-day Peru, where access to arid areas for burial enhanced the preservation of textiles. More defining characteristics include the use of more abstract imigery, a more advanturous use of color, and subtle structural differences. A complete tunic would have four narrow panels of similar design oriented symetrically about the center axis. Two panels at a time would be woven together in a narrow strip on a vertical loom with sewn up the center with a slit left for the head, folded at the shoulder and between two panels, but the bottom and right edges remain intact. The imigery in this piece is common to several cultures and performs similar functions, yet is articulated by the Wari in a different way. The pattern on this fragment, ap rofile face with a vertical split eye and crossed fangs, and an inverted stepped fret motif, is a common Wari design. The use of both cotton and camelid fibers (available at the coat and highlands, respectively) is more specific to the Wari, whose geographical position gave them access to both yarn types. Most distinctly Wari are structural differences, such as interlocking weft threads, warp threads cut along and then chained or obliquely interlaced, and in the solid bands, barely perceptible diagonal 'lazy lines' that include the work of multiple inidividuals on a single piece. As with many other fine textiles, the intense amount of work, materials, and expertise required to create such tunics indicates their role as markers of prestige and empowerment, both for the wearer and the state.
[S. Ostrowski'10, Extracts].

abstract; patterns; clothing; indigenous people; red; decoration and ornament

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