Object Record

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Catalog number 98.4.1
Title The Fringed border with mythological beings
Object Name Textile
Description Woven decorative fringed border with mythological beings.
Keeping in mind that some Paracas embroideries measured up to 85 feet long,this piece is a small fragment of the border of a much larger piece. It nevertheless contains a great deal of valuable information for understanding the Paracas textile tradition and the culture as a whole. The border strip shows a row of repeating anthropomorphic figures with outstretched limbs, suggesting that they are in flight. The color scheme is typical of Block Color embroideries (see Notes), with a predominance of rich green, red, yellow, and orange hues. The figures wear stylized masks revealing only a triangular chignon of hair that seems to project outward, further suggesting the sense of movement the embroiderers attempted to convey. Their hands grasp what appears to be a serpent with wing-like projections. The appendages of the figures have human qualities, while the bodies and masks recall animal or fantastical creatures, particularly monkeys. This mixture of human and animal features is at the heart of Paracas symbolism, revealing a widespread practice and veneration of shamanism, the central tenet of Paracas spiritual belief. The figures depicted probably represent human impersonators, or shamans that dress in the guise of powerful animal spirits that guide them in their transformation into supernatural beings.
Ananda Suarez Cohen, "Early Textiles Traditions of South Coastal Peru," in "Natural and Supernatural: Andean Textiles and Material Culture," (G -T M, Queens College, CUNY, September 8 - October 24, 2009), 13.
Medium/Material Camelid fiber
Dimensions W-2.25 L-8.5 inches
Year Range from 100
Year Range to 1
Search Terms Pre-Columbian
1st century BC
2nd century BC
1st century AD
Exhibition and Publication History * Amy Winter, ed. "Natural and Supernatural: Andean Textiles and Material Culture," ex. cat. G -T M, Queens College, CUNY, September 8 - October 24, 2009.
Culture Paracas/South coast Peru