Threads of Time: Tradition and Change in Indigenous American Textiles

Tapestry Fragment Depicting Feathers



Tapestry Fragment Depicting Feathers


Throughout history imitation has been seen as “the sincerest form of praise” and the ancient Andes is no exception. Here featherwork is imitated in woven textiles, tapestry in particular. In this tiny piece, the quills are delineated, the ends come to a point, and there is a realistic color change between the down and the rest of the feather (the vane). Though abstract, the parts are rendered like actual feathers, except that each feather is outlined in light brown to set it off. Lining them up reflects the way in which actual featherwork (featherwork in this exhibition can be found herehere, and here) is created, by first sewing together lines of feathers and then stitching the joining thread to the ground cloth, laying one line to overlap the next.

Geographic Area

South America, Central Andes




Late Intermediate Period, ca. 1000-1470 AD



Credit Line

Ex coll. C. Clay and Virginia Aldridge

Accession Number


Photo Credit

Photo by Bruce M. White, 2016

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