Unknown Artist, Tasseled Tunic. Chimú, Peru, 900–1400 CE. Knotted network and tapestry with applied tassels, cotton and camelid fiber. 21 x 53 x 2 ½ in. Neusteter Textile Collection, Gift In Memory of Richard Levine; 2011.358
By 1200 CE, the Kingdom of Chimor controlled nearly 800 miles of territory including Peru’s north coast, the most fertile region in the Andes. Using sophisticated irrigation techniques, the Chimu oversaw an extensive regional economy that traded its agricultural bounty, plus key goods such as salt and cotton, in return for luxury items: spondylus shells, cochineal dye, and precious metals. Known for the monumental adobe architecture of their capital city Chan Chan, the Chimu amassed great wealth and converted large compounds into veritable museums.
Among Andean communities, a textile as extravagantly ornate as this one would have been considered an object of prestige. Its intricate structure consists of an openwork, knotted net made of thin cotton cords. The vertical cords also serve as warps on which brilliantly dyed camelid fiber (probably alpaca) yarns are woven. Elaborate knotted tassels, attached separately to the surface, hide small embroidered medallions set in an alternating pattern. Only when movement causes the tassels to rise can the pattern be seen. In other words, this extraordinary garment captures the kinetic, sensory aspect of Andean adornment that we can never fully appreciate in a museum setting.
- Exhibited in "The Andean Tunic: 400 BCE - 1800 CE," The Metropolitan Museum of Art, March 7 - October 16, 2011
- “ReVision: Art in the Americas” — Denver Art Museum, 2/16/2020 – 11/8/2020