Image: Cloth with Procession of Figures, 170 BC–AD 70. Central Andes, south coast, Wari Kayan Necrópolis(?), Nasca people. Cotton and pigment (field), camelid fiber (border and fringe); 276 by 65.2 cm. The Norweb Collection, 1940.530
The current textiles installation from the permanent collection at The Cleveland Museum of Art represents several different civilizations that flourished in the ancient Andes, known today as Peru and parts of adjacent countries. Though unrelated by cultural affiliation, the selection of textiles is unified by each being special in some way— whether through rarity, complexity of execution, or luxury of materials. The centrepiece of the display is a unique cloth that experts regard as one of the greatest paintings to survive from South American antiquity. One of the museum’s masterpieces, it was created by an artist of the Nasca culture (100 BC–AD 650) and depicts a procession of figures, who may represent humans dressed in the guises of supernatural beings thought to control nature’s fertility.
Image: Feathered Panel (Hanging), 600–900. Central Andes, south coast, Churunga Valley, Corral Redondo(?), Wari people. Blue-and-yellow macaw feathers and cotton (field), camelid fiber (upper band); 81.3 x 223.5 cm. Andrew R. and Martha Holden Jennings Fund, 2002.93
Other textiles in the installation include a panel covered in the radiant feathers of the blue-and-yellow macaw, made by artists of the Wari Empire (600–1000), and several fragments that are rare survivors of the catastrophic rains that destroyed much of the Moche culture’s (AD 200–850) textile legacy.
Image: Band (Headband?), 650–850. Central Andes, north coast, Moche-Wari style. Camelid fiber and cotton; 59.4 x 10.8 x 8.3 cm. Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund, 2014.389
The exhibition runs until 4 December, 2022, in the Galleries of the Ancient Americas (Gallery 232) at The Cleveland Museum of Art.
Over at the Deutsches Textilmuseum (DTM) in Krefeld, the current exhibition, Peru— ein Katzensprung, celebrates the museum's important collection of pre-Columbian textiles. The huge DTM collection lends around 278 textiles to this display, augmented by 14 loans. Running until 23 April 2023, this is the first major exhibition of Peruvian textiles at the museum since 1959.
Image: Fragment of a weave with a cat motif, Peru, central coast Chancay culture, AD1000-1450 Inv. 14477. Courtesy of Deutsches Textilmuseum.
The exhibition demonstrates the variety and complexity of both patterns and techniques found in these historical textiles, and illustrates how these fabrics have continued to inspire and inform textile and fashion design, from post-war West Germany to the present day.
Image: Double weave, Peru, north coast possibly highlands, Chimu? AD1100-1470. Inv. 11076. Courtesy of Deutsches Textilmuseum.