Fragment of a ceremonial textile
Nasca culture, south coast, Peru
Early Intermediate Period, circa 100-300 CE
Cotton warp and weft, dyed camelid hair, added fiber and embroidery; central panel: plain weave with warp wrapping; edges: plain-weave woven bands with stem-stitch embroidery
72 x 45 cm
Fowler Museum at UCLA. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Herbert L. Lucas, Jr. X86.2925 (including 2914-2918 fragments)
Source: Elena Phipps, The Peruvian Four-Selvaged Cloth. Ancient Threads / New Directions. Fowler Museum Textile Series, No. 12, Los Angeles, 2013
This extraordinary ceremonial textile is one of only three known examples made utilizing a special technique for creating this visually simple, yet technically complex, design of colored squares (see fig. 85). The weaver used unspun dyed fibers that are wrapped around the warps during the weaving process to create the color blocks. The unusual design simplicity of the color blocks and their non-repeating sequence contrasts with the embroidered bands, which feature flying four-legged creatures who have feline whiskers and snake-head tails (see fig. 14). The small size of this textile, in relation to others from the period, may indicate that it was once part of a set of ritual paraphernalia and used to create a sacred space, such as for an altar or ritual mesa.