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Object Name: Fragment from a tunic
Cultural Group/Place of Origin : Nasca/Wari culture, likely from the Nasca Valley, south coast of Peru
Date: 600-800 CE
Materials Used: Camelid hair warp and weft (Z-spun, S-plied); woven, tie-dyed and reassembled
Dimensions: 170 x 35 cm
Credit line and Accession Number: Fowler Museum at UCLA. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Herbert L. Lucas Jr. X86.3953.
Source: Elena Phipps, The Peruvian Four-Selvaged Cloth. Ancient Threads / New Directions. Fowler Museum Textile Series, No. 12, Los Angeles, 2013
Each section is composed of discontinuous warp and weft – as complete units. All selvages are preserved, including on the warp-fringed edges top and bottom.
These complex tie-dyed elements were part of a spectacular tunic and represent a tradition that developed in the south coast of Peru in a period associated with the Wari cultural presence in the region. A number of these types of colorful and dazzling textiles have been preserved. Here we see a fragment, which presents almost the complete length of a tunic, including the fringed edges. The tunic would have been formed by folding the textile at the shoulder line and stitching the side seams together. The composition is the result of a number of steps: woven narrow strips, the shapes of each rectangular component were formed through discontinuous warps and wefts, separated with a scaffolding yarn that could be removed after the weaving was completed. The strips were dyed in a number of different resist or tie-dye patterns and in different dye baths, and then separated into their components and assembled in a different order. The rectangular shapes were joined together by reinserting a scaffolding yarn to join section in one direction, and by stitching in the other, forming what appears to be undulating stepped design. This design is formed visually rather than technically. By offsetting the colored rectangles, and placing them adjacent to secondary rectangles, the illusion of the colors forming a continuous stepped pattern emerges, when in fact this is constructed with separate rectangular units.