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Panel, c.650–900; Wari, Peru, Middle Horizon; feathers and cotton; 26 15/16 x 82 5/16 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, Museum Purchase 285:1949

Balance and Opposition in Ancient Peruvian Textiles

June 15—November 25, 2018

Gallery 100, Main Building


About the Exhibition

In ancient Peru, the concept of duality—life and death, man and woman, left and right—was fundamentally important to art and culture. All aspects of life, including religion, politics, and the landscape, were organized into two opposing parts that operated in the continual pursuit of balance. Valued more highly than gold, textiles embodied this duality, as they only come into existence when the warp is woven with the weft. Though numerous societies rose and fell in ancient Peru, textiles maintained the upmost importance.

Balance and Opposition in Ancient Peruvian Textiles presents works from the Museum’s impressive collection of Andean textiles that illustrate this quest for balance through imagery, technique, and function. This collection of textiles, including loaned works from the University of Missouri Museum of Art and Archaeology, have never been on view together. Spanning nearly 2,000 years and drawn from across Peru’s diverse cultures and terrains, these works demonstrate larger ideas about the relationship between life and death, gendered dress, and the textile medium itself.

Balance and Opposition in Ancient Peruvian Textiles is curated by Deborah Spivak, Andrew W. Mellon Fellow for Ancient American Art.

Large print labels will be available for your own device or at the Taylor Hall Information Center on exhibition opening.

Touch Panel

Feel the raw materials used to make textiles in Ancient Peru with a touch panel of fibers.

Tunic, c.1000–1400; Ica, Peru, Late Intermediate Period; camelid fiber; 23 1/4 x 49 3/16 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, Museum Purchase 284:1949