The Incas: Machu Picchu, Cuzco, Inca Trail

The Incas: Weaving

Kaleidoscope of Inca Tunic. The finest textiles were made in the convents connected with the Temples of the Sun, by the Chosen Women, sometime called the Virgins of the Sun.

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Go Geometry from the Land of the Incas

Hiram Bingham, the American explorer who found the ruins of Machu Picchu in 1911, wrote:

The Incas were fortunate in having as their subjects a hard-working race, accustomed to constant effort. Today while one encounters lazy men, one never sees Quechua women idle. While tending flocks or walking along the road they are almost always winding or spinning yarn. One often finds them engaged in the manufacture of shawls, girdles, ponchos, and blankets on hand looms. Even the men and older children are sometimes thus engaged.

As a matter of fact, ancient Andean weaving, as developed by the Incas, was one of the greatest textile arts the world has ever seen. We depend on silk worm or the flax plant. They had cotton and the soft wool of the alpaca but they also used the extremely fine and rare wool of the vicuna, the smallest American camel. They never took the trouble to domesticate it. They depended on what would be caught by the Inca hunters after being rounded up in huge annual drives.

Tourists in Peru are always anxious to secure rugs made of vicuna skins but these little animals have now become so scarce as to be protected. In the days of the Incas vicuna wool seems to have been reserved for the rulers and the nobles.
 

 

Examples of early Peruvian textiles amaze the beholder. Fine specimens may be seen in various museums of art in Boston, New York and Washington. They are as worthy of admiration as the finest specimens of Egyptian or Chinese weaving. The inventiveness and resourcefulness of the Peruvian weavers created materials which indicate as long a period of artistic development as that of Egypt or China. These rare and beautiful stuffs which have been found in the coastal cemeteries of Peru, where they have been preserved by the dry desert air and the absence of rainfall, prove to the students of the history of art the very great age of Inca civilization. An none of it was borrowed from Asia.

Inca Tocapu Index


Inca Tocapu Index.
Tocapu: Small square script found on Incan textiles and wooden vases.

 

We are told that the finest textiles were made in the convents connected with the Temples of the Sun, by the Chosen Women, sometime called the Virgins of the Sun, who were carefully trained in this difficult art. Some of their products are as fine and soft as the finest silk. The Lima Museum has the best examples.

Source:

‘Lost City of the Incas, The Story of Machu Picchu and its Builders’ by Hiram Bingham
The American explorer who found the ruins of Machu Picchu in 1911
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Hiram Bingham at Machu Picchu
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