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Published: 13 November 2021

By Andy Ross

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Peru's amazing textile history

In this, the bicentenary of Peru's independence from Spanish rule, the culture of this country is on display at the British Museum. 

Exquisite textiles from Peru include this funerary blanket. It shows people in gold cat masks holding decapitated heads; this was a society that believed in and practiced sacrifice, and it is exquisitely detailed. It must have taken months of painstaking work to produce. 

The video below was taken on a mobile phone at the show. It is of the different elements depicted on a vase and shows people making and enjoying textiles. The video has, on the bottom left, text indicating what is highlighted in red on the piece. It is fascinating to see the detail. The last frames of the footage show the actual piece which the animation has been explaining. 

The textile traditions of the country are alive and well. A project called Winaypaq Qaytu is also on show. Made by weavers from Pitumarca, the textile is actually four sections, each made with a technique from a different period in Peru's history - Wari, Inca, colonial and Republican - and is joined at the centre by a woven stepped cross motif from pre-colonial times, called a Chakana. 

Find out more about this exhbition here.

(Top image courtesy of The British Museum)