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A Comparison of War Iconography in the Archaeological Textiles of Paracas-Topará (in Southern Peru) and in the Weavings of Ayllu Qaqachaka (Bolivia) Today

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Drawing on some observations by Anne Paul concerning the iconography of textile borders in cloth from archaeological sites in Paracas-Topará (southern Peru), and her suggestion that these acted as “markers of the sacred,” we examine some ethnographic contexts in highland Bolivia that also concern borders: the final moment of the wayñu dance each year, and the finishing of textile and field borders. In each case, we propose that the object is to control certain spirits believed to dwell within these borders, so that they finish their creative task there. Finally, we examine the relation between the so-called “war of the ayllus” in Bolivia (in 2000), which produced dramatic changes in regional aesthetics, and textile structures postwar, in which images from textile borders came to occupy the central space of woven cloth. We explain these changes through a theory concerning the war dynamics that occur between the borders and centers of modern territories in conflict, and the way that local populations understand these, which might also have archaeological significance in the case of Paracas-Topará.

Keywords: Andes; Paracas-Topará; Qaqachaka; textiles; war of the ayllus; weaving aesthetics; weaving structures

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: November 1, 2009

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  • Textile brings together research in textile studies in an innovative and distinctive academic forum for all those who share a multifaceted view of textiles within an expanded field. Peer-reviewed and in full-color throughout, it represents a dynamic and wide-ranging set of critical practices. It provides a platform for points of departure between art and craft; gender and identity; cloth, body and architecture; labor and technology; techno-design and practice— all situated within the broader contexts of material and visual culture.

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