The Cleveland Museum of Art

Collection Online as of May 5, 2016

Cloth with Procession of Figures, 100 BC-200

cotton and pigment (field); camelid fiber (borders and fringe), Overall: 69.80 x 280.70 cm (27 7/16 x 110 1/2 inches); Mounted: 81.28 x 6.35 cm (32 x 2 1/2 inches). The Norweb Collection 1940.530

This Nasca cloth is among the most famous of surviving Andean textiles and one of the museum's great treasures. On it is painted a procession of figures interpreted as deities or humans impersonating deities. The procession's purpose is not clear, but its sacrificial overtones are. At the far left, a figure touches a human head with its tongue, and severed heads tip the streamers that flow from several other figures.

In Nasca art, severed heads seem to symbolize the life force used to promote nature's fertility. Procession, apparently a part of Nasca ceremonial life, perhaps had the same goal. For instance, we suspect that the Nasca lines-huge ground drawings of lines, geometric forms, and animals-were walked by processions during water rites, since the lines are like paths and often relate to nearby rivers .

Several of the figures wear feline mouthmasks. One figure wears outspread wings, others a tunic (shirt) and either a triangular loincloth or a skirt, all items of male costume. The function of the cloth, a fragment that is incomplete along the upper edge, is unclear.

Susan E. Bergh, Ph.D., Associate Curator, Art of the Ancient Americas

Cleveland, OH: The Cleveland Museum of Art; November 9, 1945- January 6, 1946. "Art of the Americas." exh. cat. no. 10, repr.

New York, NY: The Museum of Modern Art; January 26- March 26, 1954. "Ancient Arts of the Andes." exh. cat. 56, fig. 58. p. 57, pl.2, fig. 60. repr.

Cleveland, OH: The Cleveland Museum of Art; February 23- March 3, 1966. "Treasures of Peruvian Gold."

Detail Views