Color, Structure and Meaning in Ancient Andean Fiber Arts

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 81st Annual Meeting, Orlando, FL (2016)

Color is among the most notable visual features of the material world of every society, from manufactured objects (e.g., textiles, ceramics, paintings, etc.) to the landscape. This symposium focuses attention on color as a meaningful element in the material world of the Pre-Columbian Andes. The central problem will be to address the modes of production, uses, and the meanings of color in fiber arts (textiles, khipus, wrapped sticks, etc.) and other media. This symposium aims to develop a broad understanding of how color differences and color patterning may have constituted a domain of signs and symbols that were drawn on and manipulated by crafts persons from the archaic through the early colonial period in the Andes. Ultimately, the goal of this symposium is to take interpretations and conclusions outside the narrow field of textile studies where they can be of importance for the understanding of social organization and structure, ritual, and other social practices.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-10 of 10)

  • Documents (10)

  • Color and Q'iwa: Expecting the Unexpected in Andean Textile Design (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Rebecca Stone.

    Color is one of many key expressive modes for textiles in particular. Intense, communicative, and not always predictable, Andean textile coloration is a complex issue. Rather than submitting to a "cookbook" delineation of color symbolism (red means blood, etc.), the abstract mindset of ancient and modern Andean societies means that color has many more complex, even philosophical, roles to play in the fiber arts of this area. For instance, purposeful rupturing of regular color patterning...

  • Color in Wari and Inka Khipus (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Gary Urton.

    This paper analyzes the uses of color in the Wari and Inka khipus. The focus of the study will be on the ranges and ways of combining colors used in each tradition. The central question to be addressed is: How was color used as a medium of coding information in each tradition and what can we say about how and why the system of color may have changed as it did from Wari to Inka times?

  • Color patterns and aspects of significance in the Paracas Necropolis (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Ann Peters.

    Anne Paul (1998) observed that the Paracas Necropolis embroiderers seem to explore all possible color repeat patterns in their mantle design. At the same time, a few dominant color combinations recur throughout the assemblage. Like speech, color is a system of difference, hues perceived relationally through contrast with those adjacent. Dyed color is produced by chemical processes on natural fiber with pre-existing tones, and changes over time in diverse environmental conditions. These factors...

  • Color, Structure, and Meaning in Middle Horizon Khipus (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jeffrey Splitstoser.

    Inka khipus used cord color, knots, cord attachment, final twist, and sometimes material (e.g., colored camelid hair) to encode information. Middle Horizon (Wari) khipus used all these conventions and more. For instance, the thick, white, cotton pendant cords of MH khipus were routinely wrapped with brightly colored (usually camelid hair) yarns that most likely conveyed meaning. The thickness and structure of pendant-cords themselves likely held significance. Further, while Wari khipu makers...

  • Color, Structure, and Society in the Tiwanaku State (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Sarah Baitzel.

    In the Andes, weaving and wearing cloth are essential for shaping identity and social relations. The weavers of the south-central Andean Tiwanaku state (Middle Horizon period A.D.500-1100) possessed knowledge of plant and animal fibers, weave techniques, dyes, and iconography which allowed them to produce a wide range of textiles, from the monochrome cloths of daily life to the vibrantly colored tapestries. Examining textile evidence from burials at the provincial center of Omo M10 (Moquegua,...

  • The Colors of the Coya's Robes (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Blenda Femenias.

    Of the many surviving pre-Columbian Inka textiles, especially those made in tapestry and featuring tukapu (rectangular design blocks), only a few full-size garments are associated with females. There are, however, many miniature female garments. Inka textiles also tend to follow a limited number of color combinations, although some textiles show a more diverse, even exuberant mixture. Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala, in his section on the coyas (queens), attributes a specific set of colors to each...

  • Dress Codes: Color Patterning in Wari Tapestry-Woven Tunics (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Susan Bergh.

    Artistically elaborate tapestry-woven tunics were the raiment of rulers and other esteemed elites of the ancient Andean Wari civilization (AD 600-1000). The tunics’ figurative iconography is well known: drawn from a limited repertoire that often relates to the Wari state’s official religious cult, it almost always comprises a single type of motif that repeats many times in different orientations and color combinations (color blocks) across each tunic’s gridded body. Less legible and recognized...

  • Nuance, Brilliance and Sheen: Textile color qualities in the Andean World (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Elena Phipps.

    Andean textile artists transformed fibers and dyes from nature to create complex color palettes attuned to the aesthetic of their time and place. Creating unique qualities not only of value and hue, qualities of color—in nuance shades, degree of sheen and brilliance-- Andean dyers, spinners and weavers built a vocabulary of color that contributed to the meaning and value of textiles in their social, political and creative context. From Chavin religious and supernatural figures created through...

  • The ties that bind – color, structure and meaning on miniature tupu cords (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Colin McEwan.

    Andean tupus (cloak pins) recovered from archaeological contexts often have a single perforation in the middle of the head. This suggests that they were connected by a woven cord and worn in pairs, an observation that is corroborated by ethno-historic accounts as well as contemporary ethnography. There are also some surviving examples of miniature tupus connected by miniature woven cords from capac hucha burials. This presentation describes and analyses one such example from the British Museum...

  • Unraveling the Relationship between Color and Meaning of Cords in Matching and Related Inka Khipu (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Dennis Ogburn.

    Colors of cords in Inka khipu are of great interest because it has long been understood that they were meant to convey specific meanings, namely indicating the individual category being encoded in a particular position on a khipu. Colonial authors such as Calancha and Garcilaso de la Vega made claims regarding what certain colors symbolized, but studies of extant khipu have yet to definitively correlate colors with specific meanings. Before we can begin to understand the correlation between...