In ancient Peru the main materials used for spinning and weaving were cotton, alpaca, and llama wool. They were employed in a number of natural colors, from white to brown, and they were also dyed using mineral, vegetable or animal pigments. In the spinning process a spindle was used that included a feature known as a pinturo which was a type of counterweight that facilitated the rotation of the spindle and the tightening of the thread. Weaving is one of the oldest traditions in the world. In fact, since 2500 BCE it has been an important part of Peruvian culture. It sits at the very core of the Quechua culture, shaping personal and regional identities, and acting as a form of inter-regional communication. Some people vest their entire sense of personal identity in their occupation as a weaver, stating that without weaving they would no longer have an identity. Much like coffee, cashmere, or wine, the quality of cotton varies greatly. Thanks to ideal growing conditions, extra-long staple length and hand harvesting, Peruvian pima cotton is the world’s finest, prized for its exceptional durability, softness and brilliant luster.
The Paracas culture originated on the south coast of Peru in the years 800-175 BCE. The most important Paracas findings come from the smallish area of Paracas peninsula that has given the name to the culture. Thousands of gorgeous textiles found in ancient cemeteries are especially significant. The Paracas culture was an Andean society between approximately 800 BCE and 100 BCE, with an extensive knowledge of irrigation and water management and significant contributions in the textile arts. It was located in what today is the Ica Region of Peru (in the south of Peru). Most information about the lives of the Paracas people comes from excavations at the large seaside Paracas site on the Paracas Peninsula, first investigated by the Peruvian archaeologist Julio Tello in the 1920s. Besides textiles, ceramics were a significant art form of the Paracas culture. In the early ceramics of the area one can detect powerful influence of the Chavin culture, but relatively soon themes such as the surrounding maritime nature were established as the ornamental motifs. The Paracas ceramics have a black ground color. The vessels were decorated only after the baking with the help of resin-based colours. Also the so-called light Topará ceramics has been found in the Paracas tombs, but it is presumably imported.
I found these objects in the Larco museum and was fascinated by this culture. The Chavin were the first known pre-Columbian Andean civilization in the Andean highlands area of modern day Peru. They flourished from 900 (or 2000 BCE) to 200 BCE. They were likely refugees from the drought plagued coastal cities of the Norte Chico civilization in the Supe valley of Peru (3500-1800 BCE). Tenon-heads like these once hung high on exterior walls at Chavín, encircling the temple. They are thought to represent stages of a drug-induced human-to-feline shamanic transformation. The last tenon-head to remain embedded in place is located on the west wall of the New Temple. The feline figure is one of the most important motifs seen in Chavin art. It has an important religious meaning and is repeated on many carvings and sculptures. Eagles are also commonly seen throughout Chavin art. There are three important artifacts which are the major examples of Chavin art. These artifacts are the Tello Obelisk, tenon heads, and the Lanzón. The chief example of architecture is the Chavín de Huántar temple. The temple’s design shows complex innovation to adapt to the highland environments of Peru. To avoid the temple being flooded and destroyed during the rainy season, the Chavín people created a successful drainage system. Several canals built under the temple acted as drainage.
The café of the Larco Museum is a lovely and peaceful epicurean treasure surrounded by flowers and hanging plants. All of the walls are covered with colorful bougainvillea lining the entire path down to the restaurant area. The flowers are lush and beautiful. The prize-winning gardens located on the grounds of this 18th century colonial home are spectacular as I have noted in previous posts. I felt like I was sitting in someone‘s sprawling lawn in a luxurious setting. Between the light breeze, the comfortable, plush white chairs with colorful throw pillows and the minimalist interiors, I felt comfortable and totally at ease. It didn't hurt that the food was as good as the location.
At the Larco museum in Peru, they had a collection of the most unusual cacti I have ever seen. Earlier in cactus taxonomy, Cereus was a name that had been applied to nearly all known cactus species that were ribbed, columnar plants. Many of these plants have since been moved out into separate genera. Consequently, the 30 or so plants that remain in the Cereus group are largely plants that have not been moved out of the genus rather than plants that have been included because they fit the description of Cereus. This inclusion-by-lack-of-exclusion makes for a very messy and unsatisfactory grouping. The name Cereus peruvianus has been applied to both C. hildmannianus and C. repandus which are both recognized as legitimate species today. The trouble is, neither of them resemble the many plants that we see labeled as Cereus peruvianus.
The Larco Museum (Museo Arqueológico Rafael Larco Herrera) is a privately owned museum of pre-Columbian art, located in the Pueblo Libre District of Lima, Peru. The museum is housed in an 18th-century vice-royal building built over a 7th-century pre-Columbian pyramid. It showcases chronological galleries that provide a thorough overview of 4,000 years of Peruvian pre-Columbian history. It is well known for its gallery of pre-Columbian erotic pottery. Rafael Larco Hoyle (May 18, 1901 in Chicama Valley, Peru – 1966), raised at Chiclin, his family's estate, was sent to school in Maryland, USA, at the age of twelve. He later entered Cornell University to study agricultural engineering and by 1923 returned to Peru to work on the family's sugar cane plantation. Peruvian archaeology was in its infancy and Larco Hoyle realized many typologies were yet to be recognized. He set out to correct that and approached archaeological research academically. During the 1930s, he discovered many distinct Peruvian cultures such as Viru, Salinar, Cupisnique, and Lambayeque. In Lima, Larco purchased the Luna Cartland family house, built in 1700, to house his museum. The grounds of the museum are surrounded by beautiful gardens that won the prize for best gardens in Peru in January 2009.