Fragment of a ceremonial mantle
Paracas culture (Cavernas), south coast of Peru
Early Horizon, circa 400-300 BCE
Camelid-hair warp and weft, dyed; double-cloth
148 x 74 cm
Fowler Museum at UCLA. Gift of the Wellcome Trust. X67.526
Remnants of three of the four selvages are preserved.
This fragment of a ceremonial mantle is part of one of the most celebrated groups of early textiles from Peru, found in the necropolis of Cerro Colorado on the Paracas Peninsula of the south coast. Similar to the style associated with the Cavernas group–a set of mummies burried together in bottle-shaped deep tombs–this fragment was no doubt once part of a ritual burial of an important individual, whose body would have been secured in layer-upon-layer of resplendent woven textiles, richly decorated with ritually significant imagery for the afterlife. The grinning feline deity (see fig. 10b) with a miniature version of itself nested within its belly may represent regeneration and fertility. This two-colored cloth is woven in double-cloth (two layers), from finely spun camelid hair yarns, dyed with local plant dyes likely from Relbunium roots (see fig. 12). A few related examples were made as tunics. Because of its size and design orientation, however, this textile may have been created especially as a sacred wrapping cloth.
Source: Elena Phipps, The Peruvian Four-Selvaged Cloth. Ancient Threads / New Directions. Fowler Museum Textile Series, No. 12, Los Angeles, 2013