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The Revival of Ancient Techniques



The knotting technique was mostly present during the Wari and Tiahuanaco Andean ancient cultures (c. 700-1100 AC). The sophisticated and complex technique served both pre-Columbian societies for the creation of one of the most exquisite manifestations of Andean textile arts: the four-cornered hats. These knotted hats were meant to function as symbols of political authority and imperial religiousness in Southern Andes. Both Wari (Southern modern-day Peru) and Tiwanaku (altiplano of modern-day Bolivia) hats share the same shape as well as the incorporation of the same technique made by very fine camelid threads expertly dyed and knotted. Artists from both cultures employed similar geometric designs and stylized images representing flora and fauna under supernatural characterizations. However, they have some differences regarding their manufacture and iconography.

The Wari four-cornered hats, for instance, are made by parts and usually show a plush texture quality, as they have tufts added to each knot. On the other hand, Tiwanaku four-cornered hats present a prominent geometrization of its motifs, while the final form of the hat is generally knotted from the top down, starting with the top and four peaks, to create a single piece.

During Tinkuy 2013, Dr. Mary Frame, a Canadian art historian, and scholar of pre-Columbian textiles who has written and lectured about the complexity of Andean thought as it is demonstrated in textiles taught, for the first time, a workshop on the knotting technique to all the CTTC weaving associations. Since then, the weavers have been able to make fine replicas of these magnificent four-cornered pre-Columbian hats using various materials, different finishes, and multiple designs since 2014.

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