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A stitch in time.

How often have you heard the complaint "things just aren't made to last the way they used to be?" Despite advanced technology, today's manufacturers of textiles have been unable to duplicate the intricate weaving techniques of the Inca empire--a process which produced textiles that remain nearly intact four centuries after the Spanish Conquest.

As testimony to the rich legacy of this civilization, The Textile Museum of Washington, D.C., will present an exhibition entitled "Fabric of the inca Empire: Traditions Suppressed by the European Invasion," from Julu 13 to January 5, 1992. The exhibition, drawn largely from the museum's own collections, will include a variety of colorful and exquisitely woven Inca garments. On display will be Inca tunics, neckpieces and bags. The tunics, which were worn unbelted, are knee-length and bear assorted designs, including a vivid patterned band at waist level across an otherwise plain tunic; colorful geometric designs in a checkerboard pattern; and a stepped-triangle area around the neck slit.

Known for their outstanding pottery, the Incas manufactured axes, mortars and vessels which were brought to a high polish with the use only of stone tools. Artisans smelted iron in furnaces and wrought elaborate metal vases, cups and personal objects such as bracelets and collars.

Their textiles, however, outrank even their pottery in excellence of technique and design and are considered among the finest ever produced. Thread was obtained from the wool of the llama, the alpaca and the vicuna. Garments, girdles, tunics and pouches, later found in graves where they were preserved in the dry soil of what is now coastal Peru, exemplify virtually all techniques of weaving.

The Inca emperors permitted weavers to use their textiles as a form of tax payment. The labor-based tax system imposed by the strong central government of the Incas included the cultivation of crops, service in the armed forces or the weaving of textiles, which were then redistributed by the emperor.

The textile Museum is a private, non-profit venture, financed by grants from associations and foundations as well as individual contributions. Opened in 1925, the museum holds five or six exhibitions per year. Ann Row, curator of "Fabric of the Inca Empire" and of the museum's Western Hemisphere Collections said that the exhibit is intended to foster an appreciation of Inca culture and its influence on the conquered provinces of the empire.
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Title Annotation:evaluation of Inca textile manufacture
Publication:Americas (English Edition)
Date:Mar 1, 1991
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