Weaving through the Past and into the Present: 10,000 Years of Andean Textiles


Spring 2013


4th Floor Classroom


Visitors to the Andes today are met with a rich visual landscape. This is particularly manifested in the textile arts of the region, which are renowned for their distinctive styles and elaborate decorative motifs. In an area noted for its environmental and climatic extremes, weavers utilize alpaca, llama and vicuna wool to meet basic human needs. Beyond their functional value, however, textiles have long played an important role in mediating social relations, and in asserting identities and ethnic affiliations. Adopting a broad geographic and temporal approach, this course draws on both archaeological and ethnographic evidence to examine continuity and change in Andean textile traditions. Beginning with the antecedents to textile production in basket weaving 10,000 years ago, the class works chronologically through the textile traditions of the major pre-Columbian cultures. It then moves into the ethnographic present to consider how weavers today both build on and modify pre-Hispanic traditions and styles, as well as how textile arts are affected by global markets, by tourism in the region and by the growing number of institutions and NGOs designed to revitalize ‘traditional’ weaving practices and goods. 3 credits. satisfies pre-1800 or non-Western requirement