Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2015

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Art & Art History

First Advisor

James Córdova

Second Advisor

Robert Nauman

Third Advisor

Claire Farago

Fourth Advisor

Frances Charteris


Textiles produced in the Andes at the height of the Inca rule were part of a complex social and ritualistic system in which they functioned as conduits of political power and were inherently representative of Inca social and spiritual values. Pre-Colombian garments were some of the most powerful emblems of identity. Spanish colonization brought significant changes in the manufacturing of textiles and in the basic social structure of the Andes, and the new material and social changes in textile production allowed for the creation of new types of garments that maintained their inherent significance, but created new Andean identities. This thesis explores how textiles functioned in colonial Andean society and how colonial Andean identities were fashioned when individuals donned specific garments. I found that both Pre-Colombian and colonial textiles acted as vehicles for social status and sacredness. However, the colonized Andeans understood the sacredness and social importance of these garments in dramatically different ways. Additionally, the process of double mistaken identity assumed great importance in certain material objects in the Andes. This process allowed for certain significant Andean concepts continued invisibly within traditionally Spanish, Christian frameworks, contributing to a new, hybridized artistic tradition in the Andes.