Textile Art from Ancient Peru

by James W. Reid

Textile & Art Publications, March 2005

Pathways to the Sun
Nazca culture, south coast of Peru, c. 400-800 AD
97 x 76 cm, cotton with applied feathers (detail)



This lavishly illustrated large-format art book - the first major publication in the world devoted entirely to this magnificent ancient art form - focuses on the aesthetic beauty of the feather textiles and three-dimensional objects, unparalleled in their artistry and sophistication, that were created for the elite of the ancient Andean world between approximately 500 BC and 1550 AD.

Particular emphasis is placed on the extraordinary ability of the highly skilled ancient Peruvian artists to:
(a) create a visually imaginative art while working for authoritarian political-religious states;
(b) produce an iconography that was at the same time figurative, non-figurative and symbolic;
(c) imbue feather textiles with a magical-mystical aura which enhanced their significance;
(d) display a startling contemporary quality in their treatment of form, colour, design and composition, and in the creation of what are perhaps the world's first artistic assemblages/collages.

Eight Pelicans
Chimu culture, north coast of Peru, c. 1100-1460 AD
127 x 61 cm, cotton with applied feathers (detail)


Eight-Rayed Sun and Two-Headed Serpent
Huari culture, south coast of Peru, c. 800-1100 AD
153 x 92 cm, cotton with applied feathers (detail)

  The author, internationally recognised as one of the leading authors and scholars on the textile art of ancient America, focuses on:
- The characteristics and chronology of the major featherwork-producing cultures of ancient Peru, and the geographical features of the area.
- Technical facets of feather textile production, including: sources of the feathers; different types of feather objects; creation and construction; dating and cultural attribution.
- The religious, political, social, psychological, economic and communication roles of the feather textiles in ancient Peruvian life.
- Design concepts and the meaning and importance of the motifs and shapes employed.
- The parallels to be drawn between ancient Peruvian feather textiles and Modern Art.


- An additional essay by Dr John P. O'Neill discusses the birds of the Andes and Amazonia which provided the raw material for these magnificent ancient textiles. Dr O'Neill also identifies the feathers used for each of the illustrated works.

- 19th century watercolours from the archives of the Zoological Society of London show the 30 species of birds from which the feathers were taken.

- Appendices carry substantiating material, including a map, a chronology of pre-Hispanic Peru, extensive notes, bibliography, glossary and index.



- 360 x 300 mm
- 380 pages, printed throughout in colour, thread-sewn, hard-bound in high quality real cloth, with ribbon marker; slip-cased, with illustration on slipcase
- 50,000-word text
- Over 130 works illustrated in 170 colour plates (including full-page bleed details); over 180 other colour illustrations, maps, mono illustrations/line drawings
- High quality colour reproduction, printing and binding
- Publication (English edition only): March 2005

ISBN 978-1-898406-20-4

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Available direct from:
Textile & Art Publications
Unit 4 Heron Trading Estate, Alliance Road, London W3 0RA, England
TEL (44-20) 8896 3238




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all text and illustrations © Textile & Art Publications 2005:
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