The sling shown here (#1 - 86.113), rather than being used in warfare and hunting, was most likely worn as a belt or headband, or used in ceremonies. The intricate detailing and sophisticated geometric integration, as well as incorporation of camelid wool indicate that the mantle fragment (#2 - 91.382) was likely made for the elite. Intricate designs can also be found in more subtly colored textiles (#3 - 77.206). The chevron design was created using an alternating float weave. Floating wefts, as found here, are strands of yarn that “float” over the top of two or more warp yarns before returning to the to-and-fro pattern of plain weave. These floating wefts, when used successively, begin to align diagonally, creating chevrons, diamonds and other diagonally oriented designs.
A Modern Artist’s Response
All of these pieces contain geometric motifs used throughout the history of art. The ancient Peruvians were masters at making the grid disappear through their complex designs, color variations and weaving techniques. In these examples, the use of color to create a push-pull effect in the designs dominates. Artists today study color for years in order to understand how to create this sensation of movement that Pre-Columbian weavers created through an intuitive understanding of design principles.
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"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