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Mantle, Chimu Culture, Peru

Mantle, c. 1200-1500 A.D.
Chimu culture; North Coast Peru
Alpaca wool and cotton; 38 x 41 1/2 in.
Gift of Roy and Bentley Dillard Vibrant in color and outstanding in quality this man’s woven mantle is one of the Bowers Museum’s most exceptional Peruvian textiles. A mantle is a cape or cloak worn around and over the shoulders and this example is evidence of the high level of artistry achieved in Chimu textile production. The decoration consists of bands of positive upward-pointing stepped frets in red representing feminine earth forces and negative downward-pointing stepped frets in white as negative design representing the masculine sky forces. The union of the two implies fertility, harmony and balance. These essential ideas are repeated in the union of spiraling crook-elements also arranged in paired downward and upward pointing bands. Note that the downward pointing bands are a lighter red than their opposites. The hanging fringe lends the added visual effect of movement. Evidence shows that men's costumes consisted of a tunic, loincloth, headwear and mantle often with similar design elements (Rowe, Costumes and Featherwork of the Lords of Chimor). The Chimu flourished in the well-irrigated valleys of the Peruvian North Coast. The large metropolitan capitol city of Chan Chan was their economic and cultural center. The Chimu were witness to the rise of the powerful and far reaching Incan Empire which, they were eventually absorbed into.
All images and text under copyright. Please contact Collection Department for permission to use. Information subject to change with further research.
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