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Fragment (Peru), 1000–1400

This is a Fragment. It is dated 1000–1400 and we acquired it in 1954. Its medium is cotton and its technique is plain weave with hand-painted dye resist patterning. It is a part of the Textiles department.

This sheer cloth, perfectly suited for wearing in a hot coastal climate, was woven with overspun cotton yarns, which remain spaced apart in an open weave structure. The pattern was created by a process in which the white areas of the cloth are covered with a paste that prevents dye from penetrating. After dipping in a tannin-based brown dye, the paste is removed, revealing lines of natural white cotton against a deep brown ground.
This design, featuring rows of birds along a stepped diagonal, is similar to those found as friezes on architectural structures in public plazas and on pyramidal structures of the Chimu cultures. Stepped patterns arise naturally in both adobe brickwork and in weaving, but in this hand-drawn design, the dyer has broken away from the grid with eccentric rows of fish and birds. The design might today be described as “Escher-like,” so named after the Dutch artist M. C. Escher (1898-1972) whose graphic works feature interlocking patterns and shifting relationships between foreground and background. In this Peruvian textile, rows of zigzags alternate with interlocking birds and fish, which are reminiscent of Escher’s tessellations.

Its dimensions are

H x W: 27.9 x 40 cm (11 in. x 15 3/4 in.)

Cite this object as

Fragment (Peru), 1000–1400; cotton; H x W: 27.9 x 40 cm (11 in. x 15 3/4 in.); 1954-139-2

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Fragment (Peru), 1000–1400 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=18 October 2019 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>