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Carrying Cloth (Peru)

This is a Carrying cloth. It is dated 1000–1450 and we acquired it in 1948. Its medium is cotton and its technique is plain weave with warp floats, crêpe spun; four selvedges. It is a part of the Textiles department.

This simple, small rectangular cloth is an example of four-selvedged weaving—the process of weaving cloths of specific sizes and shapes without cutting any edges. The tradition was practiced for millennia in the Andes, and is rarely found elsewhere in the world (in most cultures, woven textiles were cut from the loom). Inherent in the four-selvedged system was the concept of completeness as applied to the creative process.
The yarns of this sheer cloth are of finely spun cotton, dyed with indigo for blue and vegetable tannin for the golden brown, while incorporating the natural white color of the native species of Peruvian cotton, Gossypium barbadense. The spinner added extra twist to the yarns to provide the cloth with resilience and flexibility, enabling the finished textile to stretch for whatever purpose it would serve—whether to wrap special leaves used as an offering, or to carry food for daily fare.

This object was featured in our Object of the Week series in a post titled A Complete Concept.

It is credited Museum purchase through gift of Mrs. John Innes Kane.

Its dimensions are

H x W: 39.1 x 32.2 cm (15 3/8 x 12 11/16 in.)

Cite this object as

Carrying Cloth (Peru); cotton; H x W: 39.1 x 32.2 cm (15 3/8 x 12 11/16 in.); Museum purchase through gift of Mrs. John Innes Kane; 1948-122-3

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If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Carrying Cloth (Peru) |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=29 January 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>