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Title: Chincha Plain-weave cloths
Author: Hall, R. V., O'Neale, Lila M., Osborne, C. M., Gemmer, C. W., Bacon, E., Johnson, I. W., Ross, M. B.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  Inconsistent hyphenation and spelling in the original document have
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     M. B. ROSS


     Vol. 9, No. 2

     Volume 9, No. 2, pp. 133-156, 1 map, 8 figures in text, plates 1-9
     Submitted by editors March 8, 1948
     Issued February, 1949
     Price, 50 cents





The study presented here was one of a series planned by Professor Lila
M. O'Neale, Associate Curator of Textiles in the Museum of
Anthropology. The fundamental idea was to make use of the wealth of
material in the collections of the Museum of Anthropology,
particularly its pre-Columbian Peruvian textiles, as source material
for study and analysis by advanced students. Professor O'Neale's
sudden death on February 2, 1948, means that, although the paper was
completed and in the hands of the Board of Editors of Anthropological

The Board greatly regrets that this outstanding contribution will not
be followed by others produced under the direction and guidance of a
highly esteemed colleague.


     Introduction                                    133
       The material                                  133

     Dimensions of the Chincha cloths                135
       Lengths                                       135
       Widths                                        136

     Yarns                                           138

     Textures and weaving techniques                 138

     Stitchery                                       140
       Patching and mending                          141

     Pattern                                         141

     Color                                           143

     Summary                                         143

     Plates                                          145

  [Illustration: Map 1
   Chincha Environs]





This study of the Chincha plain-weave materials in the Max Uhle
collection of the University of California has been part of the work
of a Senior course in technical analysis. Six members of the class,
whose names appear as joint authors, are responsible for the data
collected and for the initial organization.

The Material

The Chincha collection, excavated in 1900 by Dr. Max Uhle during the
Peruvian expedition financed by Mrs. Phoebe Apperson Hearst, is
catalogued under two lot prefixes: 4- and 16-. Specimen numbers with
the prefix 4- indicate that the precise provenience as to site and
grave is known. The cloths in this lot have been previously analyzed
and a preliminary report has been published.[1] The cloths in the 16-
lot, as is explained in the report on the pottery,[2] did not identify
perfectly with entries in the collector's field catalogue or their
identification was dubious.

Six Chincha sites described in Uhle's field catalogue[3] are shown on
map 1. The number of cloth specimens representing each of these sites
varies from 2 to 52 (table 1). Briefly, the time periods indicated by
finds forming the basis of this report are as follows.

Site A (2 specimens). "On the declivities of the valley towards the
sea, 5 km. from Tambo de Mora to the north." Late Chincha period.

Site B (3 specimens). La Cumbe cemetery; nearly exhausted; the few
graves opened were "ordinary ones." Late Chincha period.

Site C (37 specimens). In "the higher Northern part of the valley."
Late Chincha period.

Site D, and "near" site D (52 specimens). "Chamberlike tombs, which
had been dug out in a mound-like older huaca." Late Chincha period.

Site E, and "near" site E (20 specimens). "The dry natural terrace ...
in front of the ruins of La Centinela." Several graves at this site
held European articles. Late Chincha period, in part after the Spanish

Site F (2 specimens). "The natural terraces with slopes directed to
the sea north of La Cumbe (circa Las Palmas)."[4] Late Chincha period.

                          Table 1

           Basic Table: Sites, Periods, and Number
                    of Specimens in Study
              |              | No. 4- | No. 16- | Total
       Site   |  Period      | specs. | specs.  | specs.
     A        | Late Chincha |   2    |  ...    |    2
     B        | Late Chincha |   2    |    1    |    3
     C        | Late Chincha |  ...   |   37    |   37
              |   and Inca   |        |         |
     D        | Late Chincha |   7    |   41    |   48
     "Near" D |              |   4    |  ...    |    4
     E        | Late Chincha |  10    |    9    |   19
              |   and Inca   |        |         |
     "Near" E |              |   1    |  ...    |    1
     F        | Late Chincha |   2    |  ...    |    2
       Totals |              |  28    |   88    |  116

Most of the fabrics described in the literature on ancient Peruvian
textiles are characterized by beauty of coloring or arresting designs
or unusual workmanship--sometimes by all three. These all-cotton
Chincha specimens have none of the expectable features. First and last
they seem to have served utilitarian purposes; for that reason, most
of them are comparable to our so-called domestics. The larger ones are
probably mantles: the proportions of the largest two-breadth pieces
with full dimensions (4-3973d, 59.5 in. by 66 in. and 16-1250, 52 in.
by 61 in.) place them in this group; a third specimen (16-1292), also
formed of two breadths (intact breadth 35 in. plus fragmentary breadth
28 in.) was probably a mantle 62 inches by 70 inches over all. The
smaller specimens suggest scarves (or incomplete mantles), carrying
cloths, or kerchiefs (figs. 1, 2).

  [Illustration: Fig. 1. Diagrams of eleven specimens with
   length-to-width proportions approximately 1:1, as indicated by
   diagonal. Seams in two-breadth textiles shown as broken lines.
   Largest specimen, 59.5 inches by 66 inches.]

  [Illustration: Fig. 2. Diagrams of seven rectangular specimens with
   length-to-width proportions approximately 2:1 as indicated by
   diagonal. Largest specimen, 62 inches by 22.5 inches.]

The fact that many of the Chincha cloths in the 16- lot had apparently
been roughly torn to rectangular shapes leads us to believe that the
excavator used them to wrap pottery specimens. Indeed, the majority
seem to have been used even by their makers as wrappings. A number of
them have long loose stitches or hanging cordlike threads, which
originally may have held several layers together. Many of the single
breadths have traces of seaming stitches on one or both selvages,
indicating that the original wrapping was two or three times its
preserved width.

A large proportion of the cloths in this group are badly worn and
clumsily patched. Two, three, and sometimes more pieces of irregular
shape applied to the base material and even on top of a first patch
are not infrequent (pl. 3,d). The mended fragments do not appear to
be either the original sizes or shapes. Many of them have been reduced
to their present rectangular shape by tearing off tattered (?) edges.

One small group of striped textiles in the 16- lot is a noteworthy
exception to the majority. Finely striped cottons similar to the one
in plate 5,d must certainly have been made for other than utility
cloths, probably for garments.

There are four small bags (or pads?) in the Chincha 4- lot. Three of
these were formed of small whole cloths sewed together at the sides
with running, double running, and whipping stitches respectively. The
fourth is made of a piece of an edge-stripe material and has one
loomstring end and one side selvage. On this bag the torn edges have
been turned in and seamed with a running stitch.

Ties for one of the bags have been made by plaiting in a 4-strand flat
braid the elements consisting of the two loomstrings plus an
additional 12-ply cord drawn through the corner of the bag to its
center point, thus giving two ends. Another of the bags has a draw
string formed by a 9-ply cord drawn through the top end with a running


[1] L. M. O'Neale and A. L. Kroeber, Textile Periods in Ancient
Peru:I, UC-PAAE, 28:23-56, 1930.

[2] A. L. Kroeber and W. D. Strong, The Uhle Collections from Chincha,
UC-PAAE, 21:1-54, 1924; Max Uhle (A. L. Kroeber, ed.), Explorations at
Chincha, UC-PAAE, 21:55-94, 1924.

[3] Max Uhle, Explorations at Chincha, pl. 1, pp. 87-90.

[4] Ibid., pp. 68, 69.


One hundred twelve cloths in the plain-weave group were measured.
Because some of the specimens could not be placed under tension, the
forefinger was drawn along the cloth beside a steel tape to smooth out
wrinkles. Measurements taken by this method approximate those on a
cloth stretched between the bars of a loom.


Complete dimensions can be taken on eighteen Chincha specimens in lots
4- and 16-. As figures 1 and 2 show, these dimensions cluster around
two sets of proportions: the eleven cloths represented in the diagram
in figure 1 are squarish; the seven in figure 2, with a
length-to-width proportion of approximately two-to-three to one, are
rectangular. Four of the squarish cloths are formed of two separately
woven breadths of material. All the rectangular cloths are single

Measurements of these specimens with complete dimensions are given
below under the two classifications.

     Squarish cloths             Measurements in inches
        Specimen 4-3633b         15.5 by 14
                16-1260          19   by 14
                 4-3890a         23.5 by 26
                 4-3883a         26.5 by 27
                 4-4056          27   by 26
                16-1253          28.5 by 24
                 4-4027          29   by 28
                 4-4022a         40   by 35   (2 breadths)
                 4-3883b         43.5 by 38.5 (2 breadths)
                16-1250          52   by 61   (2 breadths)
                 4-3973d         59.5 by 66   (2 breadths)

     Rectangular cloths
        Specimen 4-3889c          9.5 by  5
                 4-4029          10.5 by  4
                 4-3962          11.5 by  9
                 4-3882f         13   by  7
                 4-3710m         18   by 11.5
                 4-3883d         53.5 by 21
                 4-4059a         62   by 22.5

From the twenty Chincha plain-weave cloths with intact lengths (fig.
4) it is possible to know (1) that the cloths were woven by methods
standard among the ancient Peruvians; (2) that each breadth represents
a separate warping operation which established its ultimate length;
(3) that each breadth was made singly on the loom. The evidence for
such procedures and the identifying features of the end selvages on
Peruvian cloths are to be recognized in the continuous thread which
forms the warp skein--in contradistinction to cut ends of warps--and
in the presence of two or more heavy wefts, the first ones put across
the web. The cords binding the end loops of the warp skein to the loom
bars hold the first of these loomstring wefts, as they are called, to
the bars. The two or more succeeding wefts, which are interlaced with
the warps, establish the width of the piece and give it a certain
firmness. On the ends of some cloths the strand of cord for
loomstrings was long enough to carry across the web only twice. In the
majority of our plain-weave cloths it was carried across three times;
in over a fifth of the total number of intact ends in the 16- lot the
loomstring carried across four times. The frequencies of two, three,
and four loomstrings at the ends of webs in this group are
approximately as 6:32:16. A number of these occurrences are on cloths
in which the heavy cord is not long enough to make a complete
crossing; the remainder of the breadth is completed with weft of the
size used for the regular weaving.

  [Illustration: Fig. 3. Complete widths of textiles in Chincha
   plain-weave group. Separately woven webs of two-breadth cloths
   indicated by chevrons. Narrowest width, 4 inches.]

  [Illustration: Fig. 4. Complete lengths of textiles in Chincha
   plain-weave group. Separately woven webs of two-breadth cloths
   indicated by chevrons. Shortest length, 9.5 inches.]

In the Chincha 4- lot, loomstrings of from 2- to 12-ply formed the
weft for from two to six courses of weaving. In seven of the
twenty-four specimens showing finished ends, the loomstring stopped
partway across its course in the web and was there joined to the
regular weft yarn. In two the joining was effected by finger knots, in
the other by splicing (?). The two specimens (4-3889c and 4-4029)
having strong 12-ply loomstrings were small but complete cloths which
had been doubled and stitched along the sides to form bags. The
loomstrings thus served to reinforce the open mouth of the bag.

In eleven specimens the loomstrings had an initial S and final Z
twist; twelve show the opposite combination. In one specimen (4-4056)
the separate plies have an S twist, but the final yarn is untwisted.

Complete lengths of Chincha plain-weave cloths in order from shortest
to longest:

     Spec. no.       Inches

      4-3889c         9.5
      4-4029         10.5
      4-3962         11.5
      4-3882f        13
      4-3633b        15.5
      4-3710m        18
     16-1260         19
      4-3890a        23.5
      4-3882a        26.5
      4-4056         27
     16-1253         28.5
      4-4027         29
      4-4022a        40 (× 2)
      4-3883b        43.5 (× 2)
     16-1250         52 (× 2)
     16-1290         53
      4-3883d        53.5
      4-3973d        59.5 (× 2)
      4-4059a        62
     16-1292         62

Ninety-odd of the measured cloths are incomplete as to length. These
preserved lengths fall within arbitrary groupings as follows:

     From  5 inches to 20 inches in length 29 pieces
     From 21 inches to 30 inches in length 33 pieces
     From 31 inches to 40 inches in length 17 pieces
     From 41 inches to 50 inches in length  7 pieces
     From 51 inches to 60 inches in length  4 pieces
     From 61 inches to 70 inches in length  2 pieces


There are three times as many weavings with complete widths as with
complete lengths; 60 as compared to 20. Clues to the wrappings or
blankets of which these breadths were sections are frequently
furnished by traces of stitchery and broken threads on the side
selvages. As shown by table 2 and figure 3, the five narrowest
complete breadths (Group 1) are within a range of 4 to 12 inches.
Narrow widths can be woven most rapidly on the backstrap loom.
Complete breadths in Group 2 (18 specimens) fall within the range of
14 to 20 inches. These widths, also, can be woven without much effort.
Seaming together narrow breadths appears to have been preferred to
weaving wider ones equal to the two or three which compose some of the
rectangular specimens.

Table 2

Frequencies of Complete Width Measurements

                                           |Width in|Number of  |Total
                                           |inches  |occurrences|occur-
                                           |        |           |rences
     Group 1                               |        |           |
       4-4029                              |   4    |     1     |
       4-3889c                             |   5    |     1     |
       4-3882f                             |   7    |     1     |
       4-3962                              |   9    |     1     |
       4-3710m                             |  11.5  |     1     |    5
                                           |        |           |
     Group 2                               |        |           |
       4-3633b, 16-1240, -1256, -1260,     |        |           |
            -1274                          |  14    |     5     |
       4-3970, -4075d, 16-1274, -1280 (2)  |  15.5  |     5     |
       16-1240, -1248                      |  16    |     2     |
       4-4022a (2), 16-1225                |  17.5  |     3     |
       4-3883b (2)                         |  19.5  |     2     |
       4-4068b                             |  20.5  |     1     |    18
                                           |        |           |
     Group 3                               |        |           |
       4-3883d                             |  21    |     1     |
       4-4059a                             |  22.5  |     1     |
       4-4068b, 16-1291                    |  23    |     2     |
       16-1237, -1238, -1242, -1251, -1253 |  25    |     5     |
       4-3890a, -4056                      |  26    |     2     |
       4-3883a, -4068d, 16-1251, -1265     |  27    |     4     |
       4-4023 (2), -4027, 16-1257, -1265,  |        |           |
            -1271, -1272, -1289            |  28    |     8     |
       4-3633a, -4055, 16-1261             |  29    |     3     |    26
                                           |        |           |
     Group 4                               |        |           |
       16-1259                             |  30    |     1     |
       16-1250, -1294                      |  31    |     2     |
       4-3973d (2), 16-1283, -1304d        |  33    |     4     |
       16-1252, -1269b                     |  34    |     2     |
       16-1266, -1292                      |  35    |     2     |
       16-1286                             |  41    |     1     |    12

Group 3, as listed in table 2, comprises breadths falling within a
range of 21 inches through 29 inches. These widths reduce weaving
speed and bring about problems in manipulation of the loom parts. The
twelve widest complete breadths in the Chincha lot range from 30
inches to 35 inches with a single specimen measuring 41 inches. For
this last piece, and possibly for several of the narrower ones in the
same group, a two-bar loom not attached to the weaver's waist seems

Complete widths of Chincha plain-weave fabrics in order from narrowest
to widest:

     Spec. no.    Inches

     4-4029         4
     4-3889c        5
     4-3882f        7
     4-3962         9
     4-3710m       11.5
     16-1274       13.5 + 14.5
     4-3633b       14
     16-1256       14
     16-1260       14
     16-1240       14.5 + 15.5
     4-3970        15
     16-1280       15 + 15
     4-4075d       15.5
     16-1248       16
     16-1225       16.5
     4-4022a       17.5 + 17.5
     4-3883b       19 + 19.5
     4-4068b       20.5 + 23
     4-3883d       21
     4-4059a       22.5
     16-1291       23
     16-1253       24.5
     16-1237       25
     4-3890a       26
     4-4056        26
     4-3883a       27
     16-1251       27 + 24.5
     4-4068d       27.5
     16-1265       27.5
     4-4027        28
     16-1257       28
     16-1271       28
     16-1272       28
     16-1289       28
     4-4023        28 + 28.5
     16-1261       28.5
     4-3633a       29
     4-4055        29
     16-1259       30
     16-1250       30 + 31
     16-1294       31
     16-1283       33
     16-1304b      33
     4-3973d       33 + 33
     16-1252       33.5 + 33.5
     16-1269b      34
     16-1266       34.5
     16-1292       35
     16-1286       41

Seventy-odd individually woven breadths of material are incomplete as
to width. The arbitrary groupings in which these fall are as follows:

     Under 10 inches in width        3 specimens
           11 inches to 20 inches   42 specimens
           21 inches to 30 inches   22 specimens
           31 inches to 40 inches    7 specimens

Side selvages strengthened by any one of the several methods we know
from commercial weavings are rare in textiles from primitive looms. It
is not uncommon, however, to find four or five edge yarns drawn more
closely together than are the others in the web. Familiarity with
these two facts made our discovery of a unique selvage finish a matter
of unusual interest. The edges of specimens 16-1228 and 16-1236 have
been reinforced by two stitchery techniques. Plate 8,i shows the
ordinary whipping stitches which form the foundation for the second
technique. Plate 8,h shows this second line of work to consist of a
double strand twined, but always from back to front, with the tops of
the whipping stitches.

On one of the Chincha 4- specimens (4-4068a) the half-inch selvage is
distinguished from the body of the fabric by the use of warp yarns
lighter in color than those appearing in the body of the fabric and by
the two-over-one weave of the right-hand selvage in contrast to the
one-over-one weave found elsewhere in the fabric. In specimen 4-4027
the edges are strengthened on each side for some six inches of the
length by a single heavy 4-ply warp unit.

In the Chincha 4- specimens, where congestion of edge yarns occurs,
its extent in from the edge varies from 5 threads (in 3 specimens) to
24 threads (1 specimen); in the majority of these specimens, the
congestion ranges from 6 to 12 threads (8 specimens). Textures in
plate 4,a, c are comparable to those in which maximum congestion


All yarns are initially spun as single plies. In the ancient Peruvian
textiles, there are evidences of preferences for single-ply yarns or
at least the use of them even in fabrics we should consider called for
heavier elements. The Chincha domestic cloths are good examples. We
made yarn analyses on half of the total number of cloths in the study.
All but ten of the fifty-seven examined were woven with single-ply
warp and weft elements and of these ten, only one coarse cloth had
2-ply warps and wefts; the remaining nine had 2-ply warps crossed by
single-ply wefts. The majority of these fabrics classified as "fine"

Yarns may be twisted (spun) in two directions. The spirals formed by
twisting may extend upward to the left (the S-twist) or to the right
(the Z-twist). The frequencies of the left and the right twist in
yarns are indicative of motor habits, if nothing more.

The largest Chincha group comprises twenty-nine cloths in which the
warp and weft elements have left spirals; a much smaller group (5
specimens) shows yarns with right spirals. Two other groups (6 and 3
pieces, respectively) have warps with left spirals crossed by wefts
with right spirals and vice versa. The other cloths in which yarns
with different twists are combined perhaps may represent the use of
odds and ends of yarns. The following combinations were found:

1. Single-ply S-twist and Z-twist warps crossed by single-ply S-twist
wefts (2 specimens) or crossed by single-ply Z-twist wefts (1

2. Single-ply S-twist warps crossed by single-ply S-twist and Z-twist
wefts (1 fine-texture specimen).

Yarns are characterized as soft- or slack-twist, medium-twist, hard- or
tight-twist, with various intermediate degrees depending upon the
angle taken by the spiral in relation to a vertical axis. A 25-degree
angle, for example, characterizes a medium-twist yarn tending toward
hard-twist. Yarns with 30-degree to 45-degree angles of twist are
hard-twist yarns. More than half of an unselected sample of twenty
yarns fell within the 25-degree to 45-degree range. The remaining
seven had angles from 50 degrees to 90 degrees in some sections of
their lengths. An idea of the variations in any one weaving element
may be gained from plate 4,c and the enlarged section of fabric in
plate 7,c.


In general, the Chincha weavings are smooth and closely woven (pls.
3,b, and 4,b). There appears to have been little or no interest in
varying the textures by employing yarns of different weights, although
the usual irregularities to be noted in lengths of hand-spun yarns
are also evident in these. Counts taken on the warps and wefts per
inch give a fair indication of the textures, but these are to a degree
dependent upon the spinning.

  [Illustration: Figure 5. Scatter diagram of thread counts per inch.
   Figures indicate number of specimens. Symbols: triangle, apex down,
   unit consists of one warp and one weft element; open square, unit
   consists of one warp, two weft elements; concentric circles, unit
   consists of two warps, one weft element; triangle, apex up, unit
   consists of warp and weft pairs.]

Several variations of the elemental over-one-under-one plain weave are
exemplified by the Chincha cloths. Included are the following:
combinations of pairs of warps or wefts with single yarns of the
opposite system, and pairs of warps and wefts as in the two-by-two
basket weave. The one hundred and twelve specimens represented in the
scatter diagram (fig. 5) fall into groups, according to the variations
of the plain weave these are listed below in the order of their

     Group 1. Paired warps crossed by paired wefts: 8

     Group 2. Single warps crossed by paired wefts: 20

     The thread counts of 18 in this group are approximately 58
     warps by 40 wefts per inch.

     Group 3. Single warps crossed by single wefts: 22

     Thread counts in this group range from 13 warps by 18 wefts to
     156 warps by 40 wefts per inch. Pl. 5,d shows a fabric with
     count of 108 warps by 42 wefts per inch.

     Group 4. Paired warps crossed by single wefts: 62

     Thread counts range from 16 warp pairs by 12 wefts to 44 warp
     pairs by 32 wefts per inch with one specimen having the high
     count of 80 warp pairs by 28 wefts per inch.

In terms of weaving units, whether single yarns or pairs of yarns, 56
of the 112 counts taken fall within a range of 26 to 44 warp units and
24 to 36 weft units. Figure 5 shows this concentration within the

Weaving techniques, other than the basic structural types, are few in
number. Drawing in colored warps for stripes is a preliminary to the
actual interlacing of the elements. The results of this procedure can
best be discussed under the heading "Pattern."

The join is a technical feature that indicates standards of
craftsmanship. It is customary in weaving materials with end as well
as side selvages to give more or less attention to the closing of the
space between the weaving proper and the heading strip. When the warps
in the form of a skein had been spread out evenly and bound in place
to the end bars, the ancient weavers on two-bar looms first wove a
shallow heading strip to secure the warps in their positions and to
establish the ultimate width of the fabric, a practice followed by
some modern weavers today. Then the weaver reversed the loom end for
end to begin what became the weaving proper, and continued until the
length was complete. Difficulties or indifference to appearance very
often resulted in a general looseness of texture where standard-size
tools had to be removed and the interlacing done more or less by the
fingers. Plate 2,a, b shows heading strips of different depths,
fairly wide join areas in which the wefts are more widely spaced, and
above these, the compact texture of the weaving proper.

Three finely woven cloths, one of them shown in plate 5,d, exemplify
warp locking, end-to-end. This technique is known from the earliest
periods on the coast in the so-called patchworks from Nazca Valley
graves. It occurs also in Middle- and Late-period textiles.[5] The
methods of lengthening the warps by the addition of new ones vary, but
one feature is common to all those examined: the supplementary
transverse yarns are in effect scaffold or skeleton wefts.[6] In the
Chincha cloths, the two warps interlock as shown in the reconstruction
in plate 5,a. In two Chincha plain-weave cloths, as in the Nazca
patchworks, the warps of two colors meet on the skeleton weft.

Two specimens in lot 4- (3890a and 4056) are poor in quality of
craftsmanship. Careless weaving resulted in the breaking of several
warps, uneven shedding, and puckering in the center of the web. A
three-inch difference in the length between the two side edges of
specimen 4-4056 was probably due to slanting of the warping stakes
(fig. 6). There is also a difference between the widths of the ends of
each cloth, in one of them as much as three inches. Different weights
of yarn are used, their twists ranging from soft-to-medium to crepe.

  [Illustration: =4-4056=
   Fig. 6. Diagram of a web showing an irregular shape which may have
   resulted from careless warping. Occurrences of plain-weave variations
   are indicated by symbols for units: +, one-by-one; =|,
   one-by-two; ++, two-by-one; and #, two-by-two (27 in. × 26 in.
   over all).]

In specimen 4-3890a the warps were grouped in pairs throughout the
breadth of the cloth. In the first eight and one-half inches of the
length, the weft is single and for the remaining fifteen and one-half
inches the wefts are paired. This results in plain-weave variations of
two-by-one, or semibasket weave, and two-by-two, or basket weave.

In setting up the loom for specimen 4-4056, twelve inches of the
breadth were warped with units of single 2-ply warp yarns (fig. 6,
right) and the remaining fourteen inches were set up for units of twin
warps (fig. 6, left). Several plain-weave variations were found. The
weaver introduced single and twin wefts at irregular intervals
throughout the length of the cloth. Therefore, in the portion where
the single warp unit interlaces with single wefts, a simple
one-by-one, or plain weave results; where the single warp unit
interlaces with twin wefts, a one-by-two, or semibasket weave occurs.
In the portion of the breadth where warps are paired, interlacings of
two-by-one, or semibasket weave, and two-by-two, or basket weave,

Owing to the difference in length between the two side edges of
specimen 4-4056, the weaver started making adjustments before she had
woven half the length of her cloth. In order to restore a working edge
at right angles to her warps, she introduced incomplete or fill-in
wefts; that is, weft yarns entered on the long side and carried a
distance across the web and then turned back in the next shed (pl.
8,a). The largest number of fill-in wefts occurs roughly at a point
about a third up from the end. Here, seven wefts were introduced, one
after the other, all entering from the same side of the web (pl.
5,e). The distance across the web that these various wefts were
carried ranges from ten to twenty inches. At each turning point of the
weft there is a kelim slit.


[5] L. M. O'Neale and A. L. Kroeber, Textile Periods in Ancient Peru:
I, basic tables at end of plates.

[6] L. M. O'Neale, Textiles of the Early Nazca Period, Field Mus. Nat.
Hist., Anthrop. Mem., 2:180, 1937.


Three very familiar needle techniques occur on the Chincha plain-weave
cloths. Breadths are seamed together with whipping stitches or running
stitches, or are laced together with the antique seam, often called
the baseball stitch (pl. 8,d). The effects vary with the depth and
tightness of the seaming. Some of the whipping stitches are left loose
so the two breadths lie flat, their selvages barely touching; other
stitches are drawn so tightly that the selvages form a ridge (pl.
5,b). The smallest stitches are taken under two or three warps less
than one-eighth inch deep and about one-eighth inch apart. Deeper
stitches found on the coarse wrappings and one bag (4-3889) range from
a quarter-inch to three-eighths of an inch in depth and the same
distances apart.

The baseball stitch, if well done, can bring the selvages of two
breadths together in a flat seam (pl. 5,d). The Chincha types range
from very loosely drawn to tightly drawn threads.

Running and double running stitches (pl. 8,b, c), never very
carefully executed on the plain-weave specimens, fasten down all the
patches, hems, and occasionally the edges of lapped seams in which one
breadth is extended conspicuously over another. Specimen 16-1229 has
such a seam with a six-inch overlap. When running stitches are small,
they range from one-eighth to one-quarter inch in length with
approximately the same distance between them. Many more are from
one-quarter to one-half inch long, especially on the numerous patches
(pl. 3,d), and the distances between the stitches may be even
longer. When running stitches are used for the hems, the cloth edges,
including selvages, are turned under twice, just as is our customary
procedure. Double running stitches on a bag (4-3889c) are about a
quarter-inch long.

Because of the variety of uses to which running stitches are put, they
outnumber the other types two to one in the 16- lot, being often
combined with the whipping and baseball techniques.

Needleknitting, a decorative stitch which occurs frequently on
Cahuachi (Early Nazca) textiles[7] is the edge finish on four of the
Chincha plain-weave cloths (pl. 5,c). From the side, the stitch
resembles a whipping stitch except for its compactness and the fact
that the lines of thread are upright, not slanting; from the edge,
the stitch resembles a chain (pl. 8,f, g). The Chincha variety
differs slightly from that on the Early Nazca textiles: stitches taken
straight over the edge alternate with those linked together with the
chain effect.

Patching and Mending

Any form of repair technique in Peruvian textiles is rare. Many of the
materials show wear and occasionally coarse stitches are put through
the cloth to draw the edges of a tear together; otherwise there is
little to suggest concern with prolonging the life of a garment.

In a series of Chincha domestic cloths there are eleven patched
specimens but not one trace of reweaving as in darning techniques.
Apparently the unusual number of mended cloths interested the
collectors in the field for, although a half dozen fragments appear to
have been reduced to their present size, the patched portions have
been carefully preserved. Fragmentary lengths of these textiles ranged
from 14 to 28 inches; widths ranged from 13 to 30 inches.

Certain generalizations are pertinent to all the mended fragments.
There is no evidence of the use of a cutting tool; the edges of the
patching pieces were torn or snagged along a thread. If the selvages
were somewhat worn, the seamstress did not remove them but made a deep
turn to fold the worn part to the underside. Much of the patching
material was perceptibly worn to begin with; three brown specimens
were badly disintegrated. On specimen 16-1259 there are four
overlapping layers of patching material in one spot. Generally, the
worn spot covered by a patch or several patches is an area in which
the weaving was poorly done.

The patched fabrics are in the medium- and coarse-texture groups with
the exception of one fine cloth (16-1224). The repair materials fall
within all three texture groups. A third of the patches (11 out of
31) were of striped materials, most of which are of better quality
than the base fabric. Patches too small to cover the entire worn area
are pieced out by overlapping them with a second piece of material.
More than a third of the patches were taken from the edges of the
breadths, as the stripes indicate.

Techniques used to fasten down the edges are hemming and whipping. The
workmanship is fairly coarse, the lengths of the individual stitches
approximately a quarter-inch long. Standards were much below those
held by the weaver, but this difference is not surprising.

Threads employed for the patching suggest that the seamstress used
odds and ends of weaving yarns. Two or more kinds ordinarily appear on
a single patch, one of them usually a coarse white cotton thread of
fairly loose twist. Some threads are used single in the needle, some
double. Colors are browns, blues, orange, yellow, the last happening
to be short lengths of wool. There is no evidence that the seamstress
attempted to match the yarn to either the ground or the patch
materials. Where we start a new length of thread with a knot made at
the end, these Chincha threads begin with a half-hitch around the
first stitch taken through the cloth (16-1238) or with a stitch
through the cloth and a knot tied with the short and long sections of
the thread (16-1261).

Plate 3,d shows one of the typical patched cloths. Four fabrics are
represented: the base material, medium fine; and the three patching
fabrics, the lower patch very fine and the upper right and left
patches coarse. The most complicated arrangement of patches is found
on a specimen (16-1240) composed of two breadths seamed together. The
overall measurements of the torn rectangular fragment are 17 inches
warpwise by 30 inches weftwise. Within this area are nine different
pieces of cloth, seven of them covering worn spots or poorly woven


[7] Ibid., pl. 53, a-c, p. 210.


The only colored decoration on the Chincha domestic cloths is in the
form of stripes. This section presents an analysis of the types found
on thirty-odd specimens.

Stripes in this sample group either border the edge of the cloth or
make an allover pattern. With the exception of four cloths, the
stripes are warpwise of the materials; these four have stripes both
warpwise and weftwise, and thus may be classified as plaids. Edge
stripes occur in combination with an allover strip pattern in specimen
16-1287 and in combination with plaid in specimen 4-3973d (pl. 6,f).
There are no cloths crossbanded only with colored wefts.

Apparently there was no preference as to the texture most appropriate
for patterning by stripes; both fine and coarse cloths are thus
decorated. For example, specimen 16-1225 is very fine (thread count,
102 warps by 42 wefts per in.) and specimen 16-1234 is medium coarse
(count, 36 warps by 28 wefts per in.). Both cloths are allover
striped. Edge stripes occur on a relatively fine cloth, specimen
16-1255a (count, 62 warps by 40 wefts per in.), and also on a coarse
cloth (count, 28 warps by 24 wefts per in.).

Five cloths in the Chincha lot are allover striped. One (16-1252) has
solid blue and brown stripes at irregular intervals. The arrangement
contrasts with the regularity of the other allover-striped materials
and of the symmetrical plaids. Other allover stripes (fig. 8,a; pl.
7,c) have units a quarter-inch wide, brown on a neutral ground.
There is both color and texture interest in these specimens. The brown
warp units are in pairs, the neutral-color warp units between each two
brown units are alternately all single warps and all pairs of warps.
As a result, every other neutral-color stripe is appreciably thinner
than its neighbor stripes (pl. 7,c). The third allover striped
specimen (16-1224) is alternately blue and neutral color, each stripe
unit approximately one-sixteenth inch wide (fig. 8,c). Specimen
16-1225 has striping in the same colors and to it is seamed a piece
with blue on a reddish-orange ground. The blues appear to have been
the same, but the cloth, otherwise in good condition, is so badly
faded that the photograph does not reveal the stripes in the
blue-orange section (pl. 5,d). The fourth allover-stripe pattern is
common to two specimens, one of them shown in figure 8,b. The colors
blue and tan stand out from a neutral ground. The sequence is
blue-blue-tan, blue-blue-tan, and repeat. The stripes measure
one-sixteenth inch in width and are about the same distance apart.

  [Illustration: Fig. 7. Schematic representations of stripings with
   color changes indicated by symbols. Units consisting of pairs of warps
   represented by pairs of triangles. Chevron marks center of bilateral
   groupings of colors.]

The four fragments symmetrically plaided with an identical arrangement
of warp and weft stripes (16-1279; 16-1303) probably came from the
same cloth despite the different numbers.

Edge stripes, the most numerous group, vary in width from
three-sixteenths inch to one and three-eighths inch. They are simple
in construction, eight of the thirteen being symmetrical both in
arrangement and count of colored warps. The semblance of balance is
marked, also, in those stripes which are not symmetrical.

The edge stripes with two exceptions (16-1260, a kerchief, and full
breadth 16-1287) border only one of the selvages on the complete
widths analyzed for this section. The opposite selvages have hanging
threads, remnants of the stitchery which originally seamed two
breadths together. The stripes decorated the outside edges of this
seamed rectangle.

No specimen in the Chincha plain-weave group has stripes showing more
than three colors, exclusive of the color of the ground material. The
ground color is usually neutral and may originally have been white or
brown cotton. The most frequently occurring color in the stripes is
brown, followed by blue. Red and rose occur only twice.

In five specimens we found the warps used in pairs. In specimens
16-1224 (fig. 7,a) and 16-1280 (fig. 7,k) the colored warps are
paired, the ground is set up with single warps; in 16-1240 (fig.
7,j), the stripe warps and certain sections of the ground warps are
paired, the greater portion is set up with single warps. In several
specimens the otherwise uniform setup of single colored warps is
broken by a warp unit comprising a pair (fig. 7,f), and in two
specimens (cf. fig. 7,d) the series of single warps is broken by two
pairs of warps in one of the stripes. These units may have been
deliberately planned by the weaver, since they are maintained for the
entire length of the preserved stripe.

All of the Chincha striped cloths examined for this study were woven
either in the over-one-under-one interlacing or its variation, twin
warps crossed by single weft, a technique sometimes designated as the
semibasket weave. What textural differences there are between the
colored stripes and the ground material are the results of combining
the single-warp plain weave with its twin-warp variation. The
following tabulation shows the occurrences of these two techniques
among the thirteen striped pieces in figure 7:

                                                            No. of
     Weave of ground material        Weave in stripes      specimens

     Single warps, single wefts     same as ground             1

     Single warps, single wefts     single and twin
                                      warps, single wefts      2

     Twin warps, single wefts       single warps,
                                      single wefts             7

     Twin warps, single wefts       same as ground             1

     Twin warps, single wefts       single and twin
                                      warps, single wefts      2


Fifty-odd yarns, samplings from the striped and plain cloths of the
Chincha lots, were matched against the printed samples in Maerz and
Paul's _Dictionary of Color_.[8] We found yarns corresponding to
thirty-two samples representing five of the eight color groups. We
found no dyed yarns in these cloths for colors in the yellow-to-green,
the blue-to-red, and the purple-to-red groups. Only four yarns out of
three hundred and fifty matched in a previous study,[9] corresponded
to colors in the purple-to-red group and these four matched very dark
samples on plate 56. The available evidence indicates either that the
ancients had not developed dyestuffs to produce such hues as our
fuchsias, magentas, and heliotropes or that they did not favor these

Over a dozen yarns matched samples on plates 14 and 15 of the
orange-to-yellow groups; as many more matched the browns on plate 37.
Some of the yarns in this series are darker than any of the printed
samples on plate 39. The third largest series, approximately twenty,
match eight samples in the blue-green-to-blue group. The fewest number
represent the green-to-blue-green group. Yarns in four cloths are
similar to poplar and bottle greens.

Stripes are in one, two, or three colors (fig. 8). Most of the
one-color stripes (approximately 10) are blue (37F3, 37I5), one is an
orange-red (5K10), and one clay color (14F8). For the two-color
stripes we were able to distinguish blue (37F3), golden browns
(approximating 15A12), and orange reds (approximating 5K10). In only
one of the six two-color examples, however, were the two colors
sufficiently clear to match the printed samples. Specimen 16-1251
combines brown (15A12) and blue (38C3) stripes.

The three-color stripes in the 16-lot were similarly difficult to
match with the samples in the Dictionary. Yarns from the four
specimens matched samples as follows:

     16-1268: yellow (10C7) and two browns (14L10, 15A12)

     16-1277: two yellows (11K8 and one other darker than any in the
     group) and blue (36F6)

     16-1283: yellow (9J5), blue (35D4), and one other color too
     dull to match any printed sample in the blue group

     16-1287: yellows and browns (7C12, 11K6, and 14F6)

One three-color specimen in the 4- lot (pl. 6,f) has a number of
well-preserved portions. The weaving proper is natural-color white
cotton with plaiding in dark brown (15C12) and gray similar to adobe
(14D7). The wide edge stripe has the same dark brown, a lighter, more
golden brown (14D12), and central pinkish stripes which approximate
printed samples 3C10 or 3C11.

  [Illustration: Fig. 8. Diagrams of stripings in Chincha plain-weave
   cloths: a, two-color stripe, blue and natural color cotton; b,
   two-color stripe, blue and brown on natural-color ground; c, allover
   stripe of blue on natural-color ground.]


[8] A. Maerz and M. R. Paul, A Dictionary of Color, 1930.

[9] L. M. O'Neale, Textiles of the Early Nazca Period, p. 144.


Analyses of over a hundred plain-weave cloths in the Max Uhle
collection from Late-period sites at Chincha form the material of this

The utilitarian character of most of the cloths is conspicuous. A few
plain-weave fabrics undoubtedly belong to garments of the better type,
although these specimens, too, are without decoration except for

Measurements and textures suggest that some weavings may have been
mantles or other large wrappings. All the intact ends have the
customary Peruvian selvages with heavy loomstring wefts. Intact single
breadths range in widths between 4 inches and 41 inches. The wider
breadths suggest that the loom upon which these specimens were woven
was not the type ordinarily attached to the weaver's waist.

Smooth textures and the uniformly good edges indicate that the weaving
yarns were of the high quality we have learned to expect in the
ancient cloths. Thread counts show a wide range, as shown in figure 5.

Technical features in these plain cloths are the standard ones in most
respects. Warp locking of the end-to-end variety and a unique finish
on a side selvage are the most noteworthy deviations from the norm.
Perhaps the least expected feature is the patching of weak or worn
spots in the cloths. In their present condition, the several repaired
examples reveal hard wear subsequent even to the patching.

Ornamentation in the Chincha plain-weave cloths analyzed for this
study consists solely of stripes and plaids; an occasional edge finish
is as much a strengthening device as a decorative detail. A few cloths
are allover striped; a greater number are bordered on one edge with a
series of colors, mainly yellow, browns, and blues.

The group as a whole represents the many fabrics which must have been
woven solely for ordinary wear or use, being used later as grave



(Numbers preceded by 4- and 16- are University of California Museum of
Anthropology specimen-catalogue numbers.)

Plate 1

Chincha doll (4-4116) dressed in scrap of plain-weave material. Height
overall, 7 inches. Head, a knob wrapped with fiber; black human hair
folded over top and drawn in at neck with fiber string. Body composed
of 2 tortoras separated to form legs; all elements wrapped with fiber
and with one extra "toe" applied to each foot. Arms of wrapped tortora
with fingers (3) applied at ends.

Garment of plain cotton material torn crosswise; fold at one side;
lapped seam held with coarse stitches at opposite side; seam across
shoulders; no openings for arms. Tatters at bottom edge turned to
outside and secured with running stitches. Length 5¼ inches; breadth
7¼ inches.

Plate 2

Loomstring ends of Chincha fabrics, a, b, detail of ends of two
webs (16-1304b, 16-1270) to show heading strip (1) and weaving proper
(2) comparable in texture; (3) section between them, the join, more
loosely woven. Width of sections shown, 3.5 inches.

Plate 3

a, b, c, examples of medium-coarse Chincha fabrics (16-1282,
16-1217, 16-1252), fair to good qualities of weaving; d, worn
material reinforced by patches held down by running stitches
(16-1222). Dark section of b, 1.25 inches wide; a and c in
proportion; upper patch of d, 9 inches by 6 inches.

Plate 4

Textures of fine fabrics. a, comparable to modern cheesecloth
(4-4058b); b, canvaslike (16-1255a); c, open plain weave showing
high twist of single-ply yarns (4-3883b).

Plate 5

a, reconstruction of end-to-end warp locking, shown in d, by
methods which make possible the change from monochrome to stripes;
b, close-texture, semibasket weave with three heavy loomstring wefts
at end selvage, whipped seam (16-1292); c, end selvage reinforced
with needleknitting (16-1217) (cf. pl. 8,f, g); d, fine cotton
garment material with stripes below monochrome section (16-1225),
right-hand striped section faded; e, section of textile (×2) with
turn of fill-in straightening wefts indicated by black threads
(4-4056) (cf. pl. 8,a). Width of b and c, 3 inches.

Plate 6

a-e, border stripes on Chincha cloths (16-1268, 16-1277, 16-1214,
16-1251, 16-1255a), colors, brown and blue; f, section of plaid with
border stripe (4-3973d). Selvages at left. Width of narrowest border
stripe, one-fourth inch; others in proportion.

Plate 7

a, reconstruction of border stripes of fabric in plate 6,e; b,
reconstruction of stripe found on several specimens; c, section of
fabric (×2) showing variations in plain weave and amount of twist
given to weaving elements (16-1240); d, section of fabric (×2)
showing two-and-two basket weave varied in appearance by arrangement
of colored yarns (4-3962).

Plate 8

Reconstructions, a, fill-in weft to straighten working edge (cf. pl.
5,e); b, plain running stitch; c, double running stitch shown in
two colors for clarity; d, seam in saddler's or baseball stitch,
also called antique seam; e, seam in whipping stitch: f, g, top
and side view of needleknitting type found on Chincha edge (pl.
5,c), alternate stitches plain whipping stitches; h, i, two
views of reinforced selvage showing strand of twining through tops of
whipping stitches.

Plate 9

Weaving and sewing equipment: a-g, undressed thorns, 3.5 to 6 inches
long (4-3653); h-o, bunch of fine wooden needles (n shows eye)
4.5 inches long, black and pale color wood (4-3651); p, copper
needle (4-4094); q, headed and pointed stick, possibly a warp-lifter
(4-3865f); r-w, sticks, some of cane including pointed and headed
tools (4-3865a-e, g, h): s, u, weaving swords; t, loom bar; x,
weaving sword, 18 inches long.

  [Illustration: Plate 1. Chincha Doll]

  [Illustration: Plate 2. Loomstring Ends]

  [Illustration: Plate 3. Chincha Fabrics]

  [Illustration: Plate 4. Textures of Fine Fabrics]

  [Illustration: Plate 5. Weaving Techniques]

  [Illustration: Plate 6. Pattern: Stripes and Plaids]

  [Illustration: Plate 7. Pattern: Stripes and Variations in Plain

  [Illustration: Plate 8. Reconstructions of Stitches]

  [Illustration: Plate 9. Weaving and Sewing Equipment]

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