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Paracas Mantle

Room 5, Vitrine 52

Southern coast of Peru
Formative Epoch (1250 BC – 1 AD)

On Peru’s southern coast, the dead were wrapped in this type of textile mantle and buried in the underworld.

  • Funerary mantles were used by the people of Peru’s southern coast to wrap their dead in multiple layers, together with offerings, creating funerary bundles which were then laid to rest in large semi-subterranean pits in the desert of the Paracas peninsula.
  • The dead were symbolically transformed into seeds loaded with sacred messages woven into the mantles.
  • This mantle is decorated with a feline creature (earthly world) which has two feet like those of a bird (celestial world), and the elongated body of a serpent (underworld). This mythological being combines the characteristics of the three worlds, evoking the Andean belief system.
  • The design is repeated throughout the mantle, in different sizes and orientations.
  • The designs were embroidered using camelid fiber dyed red, yellow and green.
  • The textiles found in this part of Peru were preserved for centuries thanks to the dry conditions prevalent on the southern desert coast. This funerary mantle is approximately 3000 years old.