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Culture:Pre-Columbian, Paracas Culture
Title:Poncho fragment with Pampas Cats
Date Made:100 BCE-100 CE
Materials:cotton ground, camelid wool embroidery
Place Made:South America; Peru; Paracas Peninsula
Measurements:mount: 29 1/2 in x 21 1/8 in; 74.9 cm x 53.7 cm; sheet: 20 in x 9 in; 50.8 cm x 22.9 cm
Accession Number:  AC T.1933.7
Credit Line:Gift of George D. Pratt (Class of 1893)
Museum Collection:  Mead Art Museum at Amherst College

Typical of shirt fabric in the Paracas or early Nasca period. The cat plays a huge role as a mythical beast in Paracas fabrics.

Label Text:
Located on the southern coast of Peru, the Paracas culture left beind the burial site Paracas Necropolis. This piece was probably part of the wrappings of the mummy bundles buried there. While Paracas did not have a writing system, the iconography of their textiles held visual communication, and such garments as this one were worn in daily life to show rank and regional affiliation. Such cloths would later be used to wrap the dead, and more layers of textiles would wrap the bodies of those of higher social rank. This fragment may have been part of a sash or a belt, although the unbroken border suggests it was not part of a bigger cloth. Because of its small size, this piece was probably woven on a backstrap loom, a type of loom that limits the size of the cloth to the distance a weaver's arm can reach. Cross-knit looping was probably used to create the border of this piece. The pattern, the figure-within-a-figure is the pampas cat, or "Felis colocolo", the largest predator found, at the time, in the south coast of Peru. As depicted in this textile, the fur of this species is coarse and long, and the hairs are slightly longer along the mid-dorsal line, the ears are pointed rather than rounded, and the facial hair has marks that looks like extentions of whiskers. The quality and quantity of Paracas textiles surpass the technical skill and numbers of all other artifacts rocovered from the excavated burials, and leave little doubt as to the paramount importance of weaving in this culture. [B. Berckes'10, G. Rodrigues'10, Extras]

red; animals; clothing; indigenous people; creatures; patterns; decoration and ornament

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