Threads of Time: Tradition and Change in Indigenous American Textiles

Sling with Patterned Cradle



Sling with Patterned Cradle


The Inka category of qumpi, or highest-status cloth, included elaborate objects that nevertheless fulfilled various functions, from combs to slings such as this, created and used primarily for warfare. Made with brightly colored camel hair thread and featuring detailed patterning, this sling achieves the fine workmanship that defines qumpi. At the time of the Inka some men wore such beautiful fiber slings as headdresses.

However, fiber slings were the primary long-distance weapons used in the ancient Americas. The Spanish noted that the Inka army included “sling-men, who hurled pebbles from slings. These sling-men carry shields, which they make from narrow boards...[and] wear jackets of quilted cotton” (de Xeres 1872, 60). Some slings, however, were more ceremonial than functional, such as oversized versions; stretched out this one is nearly ten feetlong; yet, the longest known sling measures an astonishing 28 feet in length.


Geographic Area

South America, Central Andes, Central Coast




Late Intermediate Period, ca. 1000-1470 AD


Camelid fiber

Credit Line

Ex coll. C. Clay and Virginia Aldridge

Accession Number


Photo Credit

Photo by Michael McKelvey

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