- May 14, 2024
- 7.5 x 10.5 in.
- 219 color + 17 b/w illus.
The most celebrated Andean artwork in the world is a five-hundred-year-old Inca tunic made famous through theories about the meanings of its intricate designs, including attempts to read them as a long-lost writing system. But very little is really known about it. The Royal Inca Tunic reconstructs the history of this enigmatic object, presenting significant new findings about its manufacture and symbolism in Inca visual culture.
Andrew James Hamilton draws on meticulous physical examinations of the garment conducted over a decade, wide-ranging studies of colonial Peruvian manuscripts, and groundbreaking research into the tunic’s provenance. He methodically builds a case for the textile having been woven by two women who belonged to the very highest echelon of Inca artists for the last emperor of the Inca Empire on the eve of the Spanish invasion in 1532. Hamilton reveals for the first time that this imperial vestment remains unfinished and has suffered massive dye fading that transforms its appearance today, and he proposes a bold new conception of what this radiant masterpiece originally looked like.
Featuring stunning photography of the tunic and Hamilton’s own beautiful illustrations, The Royal Inca Tunic demonstrates why this object holds an important place in the canon of art history as a deft creation by Indigenous women artists, a reminder of the horrors of colonialism, and an emblem of contemporary Andean identity.