The Andean Tunic, 400 B.C.E. – 1800 C.E.

 March 8 – September 18, 2011

The Metropolitan Museum of Art


The Metropolitan Museum of Art will present a special exhibition focusing on the Andean tunic, featuring about 30 tunics drawn from the Museum’s collection, as well as loans from the Textile Museum in Washington, D.C., and a private collection. The Andean Tunic, 400 BCE-1800 CE, opening March 8, will examine the form of the tunic—essentially a type of shirt, which held an important cultural place in Andean South America for centuries, particularly in Peru and northern Bolivia. Textiles, a much developed art form there in ancient times, were themselves valued as wealth, and tunics were among the most treasured of textiles. Highlights of the exhibition will include a Paracas-Necropolis tunic in the so-called linear style with distinctive shoulder fringe (100 BCE–200 CE), a red Pucara tunic with large shoulder patches, perhaps depicting the face of the sun (200 BCE–200 CE), and a 17th-century tunic that includes both European lions and tocapu, organized fields of discrete Inka period designs.

For the peoples of Andean South America, the tunic was the salient element of male dress from Precolumbian times until well after the Spanish conquest of the early 16th century. They were markers of place, status, and wealth. Varying in style, shape, color, and pattern, they were elaborately embellished over the centuries. Woven of both native cotton and/or the wool of the Andean camelids—alpacas and llamas primarily—tunics were woven to specific sizes and sewn up the sides.

Education programs organized in conjunction with the exhibition include screening of documentaries by photographer and musicologist John Cohen about the culture, music, and textile history of indigenous Andean peoples. Gallery talks will also be offered for general audiences.

The exhibition is organized by Julie Jones, Curator in Charge of the Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas at the Metropolitan Museum.

Click here for more info.

Thank you to the Metropolitan Museum of Art & The Textile Society of America for this information!

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