The earliest Andean tunics known today come from regions near the Pacific Ocean in the southern part of Peru. The Ica valley, a long, mostly dry, river valley running between mountains and sea, has yielded a number of these ancient textiles, many of which come from burials in the foothills of Ica's Ocucaje basin, a high-ground water oasis. This exhibition includes two fourth-century BCE tunics from this area.
Close in time and not far in distance from Ocucaje and the Ica valley, large funerary precincts with great textile-wrapped bundles of the honored dead were placed on the Paracas Peninsula, a small, desert point of land that juts out into the Pacific. The Paracas bundles held some of the most extraordinary textiles known from ancient Peru. They included a wide range of garment types, tunics among them. The tunics, as almost all Paracas textiles, are splendidly elaborate. Exceptional and detailed in conception, with a programmed use of color, they carefully compound patterned elements. The Paracas tunic in this exhibition illustrates all three of these qualities.