This is the first time the British Museum's major collection of Peruvian and other early Andean textiles is being published as a group. Included are rare and exquisite pieces, many of great iconographic and technical importance, ranging in date from the Paracas to the Inka and Colonial periods, 200 BC to the late 18th century AD.
The introduction discusses briefly how ancient Andean textiles have survived in desert graves for up to 2,000 years, setting them in their chronological, cultural and environmental context. The authors then explain their importance in reflecting and often affecting the political and religious beliefs of these cultures. They also look at the evidence of who made them, how and why. For these ancient cultures, textiles were often the most valuable commodity they possessed – far beyond gold and silver – and they were a major medium for conveying critical cultural meaning. For us, they are works of unsurpassed art and craftsmanship, and one of the greatest resources for studying these great civilizations.
About the authors: Penelope Dransart is Reader in Anthropology and Archaeology at the University of Wales, Lampeter.. She is the author of Earth, Water, Fleece and Fabric (2002) and has done fieldwork among Aymara- speaking herders of llamas and alpacas in the highlands of northern Chile. Helen Wolfe is the Textile Collections Manager in the Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas of the British Museum.