X67.527 Coca bag with shoulder strap

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Coca bag with should strap
Inca culture, unknown provenance, likely south coast of Peru
Inca Period, 1438-1532
Camelid hair, natural and dyed colors; weft-faced plain weave; warp-patterend weave (strap)
54 x 19 cm
Fowler Museum at UCLA. Gift of the Wellcome Trust. X67.527

Description

Four selvages exist for the bag as well as for the strap.

Deceptive in its simplicity, this bag was made by the royal Inca weavers. Some of these bags, which were used to hold coca leaves, have been found in sacred offering sites especially in the frozen highlands. Typical of offical Inca production, the symmetrically arranged woven stripes are created with tightly packed wefts- as opposed to the warp stripes in the related bag (X71.1791). Telltale evidence of its weaving method can be seen in the preserved chained warp selvage-used only by the Inca master weavers who created these bags, along with special tunics for the nobility. The strap with diamond designs in paired colors is woven in a complex warp pattern, the same technique and design used to create special ceremonial belts that were documented by Spanish friar and historian Martín de Murúa and Peruvaian artist and author Guaman Poma de Ayala in the late sixteenth to early seventeenth century.

Source: Elena Phipps, The Peruvian Four-Selvaged Cloth. Ancient Threads / New Directions. Fowler Museum Textile Series, No. 12, Los Angeles, 2013

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