Tunic without Sleeves
Peru; Southern Highlands (contemporary with Inca) (ca. 1450–1550 CE)
Camelid wool (89.76)
(Warp faced plain weave)
This is a typical late Peruvian tunic consisting of two panels sewn together, with a neck slit in the middle. The wearer would have girded this poncho-like garment with a sling wrapped around the middle of the waist. For extra warmth, a mantel would have been worn around the shoulders, but as this was woven entirely with camelid wool, it was a warm garment on its own. Men in the Highlands typically wore vertical warp stripes, like the ones found here. Moreover, the fact that this short tunic falls at or just below the hips further implies that it was made for a man. While the design is a relatively simple one, the tunic is embellished with multi-color tassels and colorful, decorative edgings.
A Modern Artist’s Response
Multi-colored stripes punctuate the large dark fields with a symmetrical but unequal rhythm. Subtle detailing and intricately stitched areas speak to a sophisticated refinement. Belonging more to the realm of the everyday, this artifact shows a “popular” design and fashion of the day. It is a reflection of fifteenth or sixteenth-century “popular culture.” Textiles reflect current trends today, too. For instance, the Mayan textiles of Todos Santos in Guatemala evolved to include text when women, who had previously had no formal schooling, were taught to read and write in the 1970s. Americans use many elements of popular culture in their textiles as seen in the T-shirts emblazoned with musical groups, sports teams, and social and political beliefs, which fill many wardrobes. Denim jeans are the cultural icon of the twentieth century. The blue for jeans originally came from indigo, which was native to areas in Central and South America as well as Asia.
Closed on Mondays and University holidays
"I still remember the feeling of awe and disbelief when I was alone and walked in the room with those casts." --Ruth Tofle, chair of architecture, winner of the 2013 distinguished faculty award from the MU Alumni Association