Contemporary with the Chimú state to the north, the Chancay culture of central Peru developed during the Late Intermediate Period (900-1470 CE). Chancay ceramic production included large, hollow figurines, double-chamber vessels, and face-neck jars, with dark slip paints applied loosely to the surface. The Chancay also produced finely woven textiles, highlighting advanced skill in this material art.
Popularly known as Peruvian laces, the most delicate textiles were commonly made of un-dyed natural cotton. The loose open-weave may convey both geometric and figural forms, from human or supernatural figures to felines, birds, catfish, and serpents. In this example, the bicephalous (double-headed) serpent or catfishlike figures repeat in diagonal rows that alternate with bands of interlocking frets.
Based on figural models made by Chancay artisans, the laces were likely worn over the head as veils. These textiles have been popularity termed "witching" veils based on the counter-spun threads, a weaving technique where threads are spun in opposite directions. The counter-spun threads may have served to reinforce the construction of these delicate textiles.
Kimberly L. Jones, PhD, Label text, 2017, A. H. Meadows Galleries.