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Andean Geometric Designs: Woven Origins, Their Location in Time and Place

Sophie Desrosiers, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Summer Fellow 2014

My initial project was to better understand, in time and in place, the influence of highland complementary-warp weaving upon the geometric designs depicted on artifacts of the Lima culture, which inhabited the central coast of Peru in the Early Intermediate Period (around AD 100–700). It was also aimed at a preliminary reconstruction of the historical hearth of these powerful highland weaving traditions. The resources of the Dumbarton Oaks library provided much new material for me in the form of publications dealing with central coast excavations, and yielded insights into the problem of integrating textile design transformations within ceramic chronology. It has been also productive for the larger project I am working on: reaching a broader understanding of Pre-Columbian cultural interactions in the Central Andes, through the relations between “weaving and thinking,” and the decipherment of weaving practice genealogies. Besides the library, I have greatly benefited from the summer 2014 Dumbarton Oaks community, and particularly from the fellows’ and researchers’ curiosity. The exceptional Pre-Columbian textile collection brought the realistic dimension that one misses after looking too often at textiles’ published reproductions, and the beautiful and quiet garden provided both the loom parts and a unique setting for practical sessions on “weaving reciprocity.”