HUARI – Peru

600 - 900 A.D.

  • Height: 108.5 cm
  • Width: 109 cm

Polychrome camelids wool.

These Unku were exclusively used by the heads of the tribes or by the dignitaries who were the only ones to have the privilege to be embalmed. The mummies, huddled up in a fetal position, were dressed with their clothes, the whole set tied with bandages. They were placed in natural cavities, niches or grottos until the arrival of important celebrations related to the agricultural calendar. They then mixed with the divinities in their most beautiful finery during ritual ceremonies.

Poncho, with geometric decoration made of big vertical bands, each ornamented with two sequences of indented crooks. Those ones are in contrast to the ochre background with the richness of their colors: brown, pink, blue, yellow, cream and black. The opposed motifs are separated by white horizontal lines and a long zigzag median line.

This poncho, also called Unku, was made out of alpaca and vicuna, two materials only used for the finest fabrics. Composed of two strips swen together, openings are left to fit with the armholes and neckline. It was woven on a vertical loom, technique in which the Huari artists, as well as the Incas, excelled. A work presenting similar technique and motifs is preserved at the Edition Museum of Fine Arts Boston in the United States.


 Ancien Pérou, Vie, Pouvoir et Mort, exposition du Cinquantenaire, mai 1987 - janvier 1988, musée de l’Homme, Editions Fernand Nathan, Paris, 1987.

 Time Warps, Ancient Andean Textiles, HUGHES Paul, Fine Textile Art, London, 1995.