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"Uncu" (Tunic)


Description Provenance Credit
Description Inca uncu, or knee-length, sleeveless tunics were some of the most important objects made for the society, capable of carrying complex and sophisticated meanings about identity and status. This tunic, longer than it is wide (when correctly oriented), was intentionally woven from a single piece of cloth, as it was considered improper to cut fabric to create a tunic. The cloth would have a slit for the neck woven into it, and then was folded at shoulder level and stitched up the sides, leaving arm holes open at the top. While this example is not in pristine condition, its materials show that it was originally a high status garment. The very finest Inca tunics were made from very finely woven cloth called cumbi or combi, and this tunic seems to be made from this fabric. Its iconography as well shows that it was a marker of high rank - while it does not include multiple iconographic squares or tocapu covering the whole garment, they are included in the elaborate band across the waist. This type of tunic fits into the diamond-waist style. It likely indicated a rank that was accorded to an individual by the Inca king, who controlled the distribution of textiles across his empire.
Provenance Purchased by Georgia de Havenon, New York; given to Walters Art Museum, 2016.
Credit Gift of Georgia and Michael de Havenon, 2016

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Creator
Period
1438-1534
Medium
camelid fibers
Accession Number
2011.20.14
Measurements
H: 70 x W: 28 1/2 in. (177.8 x 72.39 cm)
Geographies
Location Within Museum
Not On View

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