Textiles have survived over thousands of years in Peru. They are one of the most interesting and ancient forms of art found in Peru today. Through colors, motifs, design and patterns, some handed down over thousands of years, we want to show you some very unique and beautiful textiles from the province of Huamachuco from the north of Peru. They are hand-spun, hand-dyed, and hand-woven textiles. 


What distinguishes them from other textiles are their colors, motifs and designs. Every one is quite different and unique. Probably because they were used exclusively in the royal robes of state for Inca queens and kings. Because they formed a spiritually important part of Inca ritual and culture, their survival remained precarious and doubtful during the Spanish conquest and colonial periods of Peruvian history. They come to us today only through an understanding of the Inca past memorialized by Spanish and indigenous chroniclers more than 400 years ago. The textile traditions found in Huamachuco are the only proven linkage to the textile traditions used by the Inca ruler and his queen. It is miraculous the tradition survived. Not one proven Inca elite textile exists today anywhere in the world.


The textiles are important. They are found in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian Institution, the Field Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Gene Autry Museum of Western Heritage, and the Southwest Museum of the American Indian because of their quality, rarity, beauty and rich history. They have been acquired by textile connoisseurs and collectors and have appeared in prestigious publications including Architectural Digest and Hali magazines.


The story of their survival is important and really amazing: From the Spanish Inquisition and lost manuscripts, hidden text, and hieroglyphically written codes to the Napoleonic wars, the Duke of Wellington and Catholic monasteries, and later from book collectors, libraries and museums to academics from both the new and old worlds, the riddle of their survival and history is being unraveled and has never been better understood.


Most responsible for their survival are the indigenous Huamachuco from around the ancient Inca lands of Andamarca later becoming the Spanish land grant of the Hacienda Tulpo. With each generation over thousands of years, the weaving took on new meaning through different cultures that had come and gone dominating these lands. Each left a legacy of weaving deeply rooted in the past, but all these cultures converged during the time of the Inca who concentrated the finest weavers, spinners and dyers from all corners of the empire (Tawantinsuyo) on their rich grazing lands for large herds of alpaca, vicuña and huanaco.


During Inca times these lands belonged exclusively to the Inca rulers. Tapestry and plain weave cloth was manufactured into garments and bedding used by the Inca elite, especially the Inca queen. Huamachuco history is marked by changing ecologies that at one time extinguished and at other times ignited different traditions of weaving. The heritage their ancestors left for us today are the ornate elite textiles of the Inca past. The splendor of their weaving endured in spite of new awakenings that enveloped and modified their cultural landscape over the centuries. After the Spanish arrival, wool fibers replaced camelid fibers, natural and vegetal colored dyes became anilines, and the exclusive use of weaving manufactured for the Inca ruler and his queen became available to all the pueblo. The pueblo's isolation and the relegation of the indigenous population to the bottom stratum of the social hierarchy assured the weaving traditions survived.


The impact of these textiles affects the soul taking the onlooker to new heights of emotional and spiritual awareness. What the weavers see and feel remains pristine. What outsiders perceive comes in the form of tapestry woven blankets and plain-woven waistbands. As the textile arts of the Huamachuco evolved so have their souls. Their textiles communicate through us the spirit of their ancestors and the Inca culture. Each tells part of their story carried forward with each one of them. Native traditions give us a better understanding of who we are and invite us into a journey. The textiles are the language of the heart. They communicate today as they have done in the past. It is a language of rare and unique beauty. They are visually sensitive and remarkably beautiful. They belonged to the spiritual leaders who governed an empire. The textiles soothed them and warmed them protecting them from winds and airs. The textiles were their gifts to those worthy. They were so honored with royal robes of state. These are the Huamachuco textiles. From one person to another, from God to man, between mankind and the spirit world, possessing the textile energizes the soul and communicates with the spirit world. Allow them into your reality. They will take you to a place you never dreamed of.