Dress Codes: Color Patterning in Wari Tapestry-Woven Tunics

Author(s): Susan Bergh

Year: 2016


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 today are the tunics’ complex color patterns, which may have formed one of the garments’ most important subject matters, on a par with figurative imagery. These standardized geometric patterns, which fall into about six categories, are generated by the diagonal alignment of four conventionalized colors blocks that were used to weave the motifs. This paper will explore the canons of color and its organization in the tunics, including systems of color equivalence implied by regular color substitutions that seem to have served as enhancements related to value, wealth, and prestige.

Cite this Record

Dress Codes: Color Patterning in Wari Tapestry-Woven Tunics. Susan Bergh. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403314)


Geographic Keywords
South America

Spatial Coverage

min long: -93.691; min lat: -56.945 ; max long: -31.113; max lat: 18.48 ;