Tunic with profile heads and step frets



Wari (Huari)
850–950 CE
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General Description

This impressive tunic reflects a pattern common to Huari (Wari) provincial textiles. The pattern pairs animate faces—which bear black-and-white bifurcated eyes, eye stripes, and “N”-form fanged teeth—with a ubiquitous motif in ancient Andean arts: the step-and-fret. The pattern color pairings reflect and rotate across the diagonal blocks, creating oblique lines that radiate outward from the central seam. The meaning of these paired colors and visual motifs remains uncertain; however, they may allude to dualities between landscape/fertility and hunting/warfare.

The complexity and consistency of this pattern support its association with a particular status of individuals. While highland Huari elite tunics consist primarily of finely woven camelid fiber, this face-fret tunic features cotton warps overlain by camelid fiber wefts. Ceramic effigies dressed in such tunics may suggest military association or status.

Adapted from

Kimberly L. Jones, PhD, Inca: Conquests of the Andes / Los Incas y las conquistas de los Andes, Label text, 2015.

Web Resources

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Read more about dualism in Andean Art.