Pre-Columbian, Peru, Chancay culture, ca. 1300 to 1470 CE. A sizeable textile, finely woven from camelid fibers, and decorated with six hand-painted panels of front-facing lords or shaman holding weapons in each hand. Three of the figures are presented against a green square that is surrounded by a step-motif border. The backgrounds of the other three figures have faded. Each figure has a similar face, with large, almond-shaped eyes that are lined in black and marked by a black dot to delineate the pupil. These panels alternate with four vertical rows of hummingbirds delineated in green and beige with eyes delineated in black against a rose-red ground. This is a spectacular example of textile art from the Pre-Columbian era. Size: 35" W x 19" H (88.9 cm x 48.3 cm); 37" W x 20.75" H (94 cm x 52.7 cm) framed
Andean textiles often have repetitive, almost fractal patterns, oftentimes surrounded by borders as we see in this example, and with color sequences designed to make the viewer look across them in a diagonal fashion. From ca. 1300 CE onward, Chancay textile motifs began to emphasize anthropomorphic figures rather than geometric abstractions. Some scholars have advanced the theory that frontal figures are gods and figures shown in profile are their attendants.
The people of the early cultures in the Andes buried their honorable deceased in bundles with woven textiles like this. The red color used in this textile was created from cochineal, a bright red insect, while the other pigments were derived from various plants. Thankfully the dry, cold climate of the Andes preserved special textiles like this example.
Provenance: private Southern California, USA collection, acquired in the 1970s to mid-1980s
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Expected wear commensurate with age showing areas of fading and staining. Losses to peripheries as shown. Still, much of the imagery is still vivid.