Paul Hughes, 1996
In the archeology of textiles, the fortunate preservation of Andean Pre-Columbian textiles is no less than miraculous. The ancient Andean weavers have engendered within a continuous living tradition, spanning 3 000 years to our days, a wider corpus of textile iconography than any other known culture. Considered from the viewpoint of composition, these textiles attained, without a doubt, the highest levels of artistic expression and symbolic signification, creating thereby the most impressive textile legacy in the world.
In the main, the ancient Andes designates an area stretching from Columbia to the Tierra del Fuego in Chile. Previous publications have presumed that most of the archeological findings came from Peru whilst ignoring the Atacama desert and the Azapa Valley in Northern Chile. The archeologist Junius Bird has published examples of such works which relate strongly to the exhibits and bear testimony to the historical importance attached to the Arica area by every known seminal cultures of the Peruvian far south coast and northern Chilean regions. We owe the preservation of those textile treasures to the extraordinarily dry climatic conditions of the coastal regions and to the hermetically sealed caves discovered in the highlands.