The Andean Tunic, 400 BCE–1800 CE

March 7–October 16, 2011


Along the north Pacific coast in about the eleventh century, another politically powerful group was consolidating into what would become the rich and long-lived Chimu kingdom. Until conquered by Inka warriors in the fifteenth century, the Chimu ruled much of the coast to the north and south of their capital at Chan Chan in the Moche valley. In the north, the preferred shape in tunics differed considerably from that in the south. Waist length and sleeved, Chimu tunics were composed of two loomed lengths for the body and smaller loomed pieces for the sleeves. They were worn with elaborate loincloths. As befits a rich kingdom, tunics for the elite members of the community were carefully and lavishly decorated. Some centuries later the fanciest of high-status male costumes came in matching sets that consisted of a mantle, a tunic, a loincloth with a large front panel, and a turban or hat.