Woman's Mantle


Not on view

This beautifully colored woman's mantle was used only for special occasions and perhaps served as a wedding garment. The textile comes from the department of La Paz in Bolivia, where Aymara weaving traditions probably predated the arrival of the Europeans in the sixteenth century. Tightly woven of the fine hair of Andean camelids (llama, alpaca, vicuña, or guanaco) in two carefully planned panels and stitched together along a central seam, the mantle would have been worn horizontally, with its broad fields of purple-red, sky blue edges, and groups of multicolor stripes clearly visible. The color fields are named for geographic features; the areas of plain color, for example, are called pampas, an allusion to the high, flat plains of the Bolivian altiplano. Mantles like this were worn with rectangular wraparound dresses belted at the waist. Both dress and mantle were held together with long, straight pins that for a mantle of this quality would have been of precious metal, perhaps silver or gold.

Woman's Mantle, Camelid hair, silk, Aymara

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