LH36 Jaguar Pelt/Serpent Skin
Tocapu representing jaguar pelt of serpent skin. Related to Barthel 4 Tocapu. Tunic, Inca, A.D. 1450-1530 Camelid fibers, cotton Height 23 ¼ in. Width (at top) 26 ¼ in. Private Collection. Colors yellow, red, black and beige are used. This piece is nearly identical to one of the Hendershott Collection sold in 2006. It's the half of a man's tunic. Woven in the tightest, imperial quality tapestry weave, this tocapu tunic has on each side, as seen when worn, over ten identically-sized Tocapus. These are arranged in six horizontal bands of ten squares across each (for the entire tunic this totals one-hundred twenty squares). The Hendershott piece demonstrates that there must have been originally a single band of two square rows with a continuous design of connected hexagons containing and surrounded by rows of small linked triangles below the main field. The upper part of this band is still preserved. A narrow dark brown plain band at bottom is bound with a multi-colored embroidered edging. Tocapu textiles were the prerogative of members of the Inca imperial clan and higher level elite individuals. The extensively varied patterns which appear in the squares are thought to have encoded information conveying rank and privileges of the individuals wearing these garments, as well as indication that they controlled a variety of ethnicities within the empire (Rebecca Stone-Miller. Art of the Andes from Chavín to Inca. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1995, p. 210). Certain of these patterns occur as the overall single motif of a tunic which would have been worn by a lower status individual. Provenance unknown. Lavalle and Lang 1987, 173 Clados Fig. 183d.