Peruvian Textiles: Breaking The Code

Muzeion Gallery
Jul 18, 2018 3:51PM

Magnificent Nazca Cushma

Hooks and step design representing water and earth.

Unknown Artist
Magnificent Nazca Cushma, 400-600
Muzeion Gallery

From Chavin (1500 B.C.) to Inca (1532 AD), over a dozen Peruvian cultures flourished. Close examination of their iconography reveals mostly images with complementary symbolism. As civilizations developed, so did their artistic expressions; however, their motifs remained the same.

Their designs depict divine images supplemented by representations of earth and water, which combined produce the concept of fertility. This symbolism - as proclaimed by the shamans - was part of the divine image and essential to the cycle of life.

Textiles, such as the one shown above, were the means by which shamans were able to preserve their knowledge. They allowed religion to influence water management and agriculture in ancient Peru, which in turn promoted abundant harvests and established the preconditions for a positive population development. It is through textiles' designs, that we can understand the complexity and development of the grand Andean civilizations.

Muzeion Gallery