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Arts of the Americas

The Wari Empire dominated the central and southern Andean regions from about 600 to 1000 and produced some of the finest tapestry-woven garments of the ancient Americas. In tapestry weaving, the weft threads—the horizontal, multicolored yarns that cover the vertical warp threads—change the color and are packed down to create intricate, mosaic-like patterns. This technique is both material- and labor-intensive, and was used primarily for sumptuous garments. Full-size sleeved tunics are rare and were likely reserved for only the most important individuals.

A frequent image is that of the profile staff-bearing deity, the most important supernatural being depicted during this era (also see the miniature tunic nearby). The running or kneeling figure repeats in opposite directions on the patterned bands and wears a headdress with two bird heads and a winged form on his back. He holds a staff that terminates in a fanged feline head.


El Imperio Wari dominó las regiones andinas del centro y del sur, aproximadamente desde el año 600 al 1000, y produjo algunas de las prendas de vestir tejidas más exquisitas de las Américas antiguas. En la técnica del tapiz, los hilos de trama –hilos multicolores horizontales que cubren los hilos verticales de la urdimbre- cambian de color y se agrupan para crear elaborados diseños a la manera de mosaicos. Esta técnica es intensa tanto material como laboralmente, y fue utilizada primordialmente en prendas de vestir suntuosas. Las túnicas con mangas de tamaño entero son escasas y probablemente estaban reservadas para los individuos más importantes.

Una imagen frecuente es el perfil de la deidad con báculo, el ser sobrenatural más importante representado durante esta época (ver también la túnica miniatura contigua). La figura que corre o se arrodilla se repite en direcciones opuestas en las bandas decorativas y luce un tocado con dos pájaros y una forma alada en la espalda. Sostiene un báculo que termina en una cabeza felina con colmillos.
MEDIUM Camelid fiber, cotton
DATES 600–1000
PERIOD Middle Horizon Period
DIMENSIONS 38 3/16 x 57 1/16 in. (97 x 144.9 cm)  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Arts of the Americas
CREDIT LINE Gift of the Ernest Erickson Foundation, Inc.
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Sleeved tunic with neck opening and fringed bottom. Making up its overall design are alternate bands: six that are patterned and seven that are plain red. Patterned bands continue to the edge of each sleeve, becoming very narrow at the tunic's sides. The patterned bands contain a repetitive profile of a winged figure holding a staff. Each reverses its direction along the vertical. With one bent leg below its body and the other above it, each figure floats against the ground. The solid-colored body is simplified except for a hatched design at the waist (ribs? belt?). Its headdress is made up of two bird heads with a border of stepped frets underneath. Its staff is held parallel to the tunic's shoulder seam, then turns under the figure's body and ends in the shape of a fanged animal head. A wing-like appendage emerges from its lower back and "squares" around a foot, then lies parallel to the bottom of the tunic. The imagery reflects the iconography of the monumental stone sculpture of the ceremonial site Tiwanaku in Bolivia (500-1000 A.D.) The patterns have four different color schemes arranged diagonally. Condition: The neck slit of the tunic is worn. Surface of garment overall shows wear. Some diagonal slits are open and some are repaired. Size: Adult. Probable wearer: Male. Horizontal cotton warp. Camelid fiber weft. Camelid fiber fringe. Tapestry weave with interlocked discontinuous wefts (reversible). Crossed looping embellishment at neck and arm holes.
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Wari. Tunic, 600–1000. Camelid fiber, cotton, 38 3/16 x 57 1/16 in. (97 x 144.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Ernest Erickson Foundation, Inc., 86.224.109. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 86.224.109_SL1.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 86.224.109_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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Wari. <em>Tunic</em>, 600–1000. Camelid fiber, cotton, 38 3/16 x 57 1/16 in. (97 x 144.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Ernest Erickson Foundation, Inc., 86.224.109. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 86.224.109_SL1.jpg)