Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino

An ancient ceremonial cloth

This cloth was found in the grave of an individual buried more than 2000 years ago in a cemetery near the Loa River. Woven from llama wool, the cloth displays a human face with feline features and radial appendages. Images like this were common in the art of the Pucara and Chiripa, two societies based at Lake Titicaca that greatly influenced others in northern Chile. The cloth’s similarity to present-day Aymara ceremonial cloths suggests that its owner used it as a bundling, mantel or altar cloth in ritual activities.

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Altar cloth or funeral wrapper. Formativo (Río Loa).MCHAP, 2961.