In Inka culture, the Quechua word “Cumbi” described exquisite textiles that were among the finest works ever produced in ancient South America. Virtuosic in their creation, these elaborate, tapestry-woven textiles were highly restricted in society: Inka-period weavers made cumbi exclusively to be worn by an emperor. For that reason, cumbi evokes two ideas at once: It speaks to both the technical mastery of Andean artists and the role of cloth in shaping a social world. This exhibition offers a new look at 2,000 years of art in Andean traditions. Presenting textiles from the ancient Andes alongside the creations of contemporary Latin American and Latinx artists inspired by ancestral weaving, the exhibition affirms the enduring, central role of cloth as a useful tool for thinking about aesthetics, social difference, and histories over millennia.
Image: Wari artist(s), Tunic, south coast of Peru, 500 – 800 A.D., dyed cotton and camelid fibers. Collection of the Tucson Museum of Art. Gift of Frederick R. Pleasants, 1972.18.