Pre-Columbian, Chancay, modern day Peru, ca. 1300 to 1470 CE. A bright, rectangular textile decorated with twelve rectangular panels, each with a bright background. They alternate between single standing anthropomorphic figures facing forward and a series of monkeys and birds. Each anthropomorphic figure wears a different, dramatic headdress, including one with snakes hanging off its sides! Along the top edge is a repeated pattern of crab-like creatures. Brilliant colors make this piece's preservation all the more remarkable - pale sky blue, deep red, green, and ocher yellow create a vibrant visual field. Size of panel: 21.25" W x 35" H (54 cm x 88.9 cm); size of frame: 28.75" W x 42.5" H (73 cm x 108 cm)
The people of the early cultures in the Andes buried their dead in bundles with woven textiles, sometimes wearing clothing like this loincloth. These often have repetitive, almost fractal patterns, often placed inside of frames, and with color sequences designed to make the viewer look across them diagonally. The red color is probably from cochineal, a bright red insect, while the yellow and black colors would have come from various plants. The dry, cold climate of the Andes preserved these textiles. As time went on, their designs changed - from ca. 1300 CE onward, motifs began to emphasize anthropomorphic figures rather than geometric abstractions. The iconography of these textiles remains unclear, but some scholars have advanced the theory that figures shown face on (like the ones on this textile) are gods.
Provenance: ex-private southern Florida, USA collection, acquired in the 1980s
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Edges are slightly frayed. Loss to one corner and in one area of the bottom and near the upper center (as shown). Some staining and discoloration; however, the motifs are well-preserved.