Main Headdress forms in the Paracas Necrópolis MortuaryTradition

Headdress forms in the Paracas Necrópolis MortuaryTradition

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PreColumbian Textile Conference VII / Jornadas de
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Headdress forms in the Paracas Necrópolis
Mortuary Tradition
Ann H. Peters
University of Pennsylvania,

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Peters, Ann H., "Headdress forms in the Paracas Necrópolis Mortuary Tradition" (2017). PreColumbian Textile Conference VII /
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Headdress forms in the Paracas Necrópolis
Mortuary Tradition
Ann H. Peters
In PreColumbian Textile Conference VII / Jornadas de
Textiles PreColombinos VII, ed. Lena Bjerregaard
and Ann Peters (Lincoln, NE: Zea Books, 2017), pp.
Copyright © 2017 by the author.
Compilation copyright © 2017 Centre for Textile
Research, University of Copenhagen.

Headdress forms in the Paracas Necrópolis Mortuary
Ann H. Peters1
The importance of headdress is indicated by its careful arrangement on the head of the recently deceased, display on the
apex of a mortuary bundle, and prominent depiction in contemporary artifacts. In woven, embroidered or painted imagery,
headdress elements include featherwork, the body of a bird or mammal, draped cloth or intertwined bands, often depicted
as serpents. Due to their position above the human body, the headdresses are the most consistently preserved textile artifacts in tombs of the Paracas Necropolis mortuary tradition. Some elements appear only with men, others are found with
both men and women and certain headcloths are unique to women. Diverse headdresses are present in each bundle, and the
forms, materials and styles change among funerary contexts placed in the Necropolis of Wari Kayan and other sectors of the
Paracas site between about 200 BCE and 200 CE. Therefore, headdresses provide insight into changing social identities, relationships to the landscape, and political alliances with neighboring societies linked to the late Paracas and early Nasca traditions, demonstrating a dynamic process of interaction and transformation on the south coastal region of the Central Andes.
Keywords: Paracas, Nasca, Topara, mortuary analysis, gender, garment system

Formas de tocado en la Tradición Mortuaria de la Necrópolis de Paracas
La importancia del tocado se indica por su arreglo cuidadoso en la cabeza del recién fallecido, su ubicación el la vértice del
fardo mortuorio, y su representación prominente en los artefactos contemporáneos. En los imágenes tejidos, bordados o
pintados, los elementos de tocado incluyen plumarios, el cuerpo de una ave o un mamífero, una tela o bandas entrelazadas, con frecuencia tomando la forma de serpientes. Debido a su posición arriba del cuerpo humano, los tocados son el tipo
de artefacto textil conservado con mayor frecuencia en las tumbas de la tradición mortuorio de Paracas Necrópolis. Algunos elementos aparecen únicamente con los hombres, otros se encuentran tanto con hombres como con mujeres, y ciertas
telas de tocado únicamente con mujeres. Diversos tocados están presentes en cada fardo, y las formas, los materiales y los
estilos cambian entre los contextos funerarios introducidos en la Necrópolis de Wari Kayan y otros sectores del sitio de Paracas entre c. 200 BCE y 200 CE. Por lo mismo, los tocados ofrecen una visión de cambiantes identidades sociales, relaciones con el paisaje, y alianzas políticas con sociedades vecinas ligadas al las tradiciones de Paracas tardío y Nasca temprano,
así demostrando un proceso dinámico de interacción y transformación en la región de la costa sur de los Andes Centrales.
Palabras claves: Paracas, Nasca, Topara, análisis mortuorio, género, indumentaria

The Necropolis of Wari Kayan at the Paracas site, also referred to as the Paracas Necropolis, is a cemetery composed
of pit tombs containing well-wrapped conical mortuary bundles, almost all facing north with foodstuffs, pottery, gourds
and baskets at their feet and staffs and (generally in male
contexts) weapons at their right side. Photographs from the

1927-1928 excavations, directed by Julio C. Tello, give the
impression of huge seated figures looking out over the steep
hillside towards the Bay of Paracas (Fig. 1).
Under a densely woven cotton outer wrapping, the larger
and better preserved bundles were dressed in large mantles,
headdresses and other garments and regalia, arranged in

1. Project: Practice in Life, Presence after Death: Style and Substance at the Paracas Necrópolis



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Figure 1. (a) Paracas site in the context of the south coast region; composite satellite image and map created by A. H. Peters and E. Tomasto, with permission from Google Earth. (b) An area of the Necropolis of Wari Kayan under excavation in 1927-1928; image based on
Carrion Cachot 1949 plate III. All images not otherwise credited are by A. H. Peters.


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layers alternating with large cotton wrapping cloths around
a seated, mummified individual at the core.2 Here ‘Paracas
Necropolis’ refers to the specific, recurrent tomb form and
arrangement of artifacts that constitute evidence of a mortuary tradition, defined in sectors A and B of the Wari Kayan
cemetery but also present in some other areas of the Paracas site and potentially elsewhere in the region.
Many Paracas Necropolis garments are embroidered, a
decorative procedure unusual among Andean textile traditions known for design based on the manipulation of warps
and wefts, forms of diagonal interlacing, knotting and other
structural techniques. This discussion focuses on headdress
elements, including those created using these structural techniques as well as those that incorporate embroidered design.
Paracas Necropolis garments are constructed using panels of 1:1 plain weave in cotton or camelid hair, either balanced or somewhat warp-dominant, joined with simple
seams of overhand stitching using yarns like those employed in the weaving. The “post-structural” decoration includes embroidery based on backstitch, and also, in Linear
design, on running stitch and whipping stitch.3 The embroidered areas of garment margins are usually bound with yarn
like that used in the embroidery. The most common binding
technique incorporates two or more rows of complex looping, often called cross-knit looping due to its structural resemblance to knitting.4 Many garments have a fringe along
some parts of the garment margins, and in these areas the
edge binding also covers the join between the separately
constructed fringe and the adjacent plain weave panel.
Due to the striking colors and imagery in the embroidered areas and their relationship to imagery depicted on
ceramics, textiles and other media in the contemporary
south coast traditions that we call late Paracas and early
Nasca, most analysis of the Wari Kayan textile assemblage
has focused on embroidery styles. Following Dwyer (1979),
one group of styles is termed the Linear mode (also called
Geometricized or Abstract by members of Tello’s research
team), while a second group of styles is termed the Block
Color mode (also termed Naturalistic by Tello’s team and
other early 20th century researchers). Paul (1982) defined
the Broad Line style group, which combines features from
both the Linear and Block Color modes. Peters (1997) defines a Linear style group largely associated with headcloths. As the Necropolis textiles are more fully documented,
a wider range of more specific styles can be defined and

traced among the gravelots, and hopefully also will be traced
in other sites in the region. Here, similarities to textiles associated with late Paracas tradition contexts and early Nasca
contexts are noted, while artifacts with characteristics that
do not recur among the Necropolis gravelots are referred to
as ‘outsider’ styles.
Garment forms have received less attention, though Carrión (1931) provides some diagrams and Paul (1990) develops reconstructions of wear and a useful classification of
male attire based on garment categories developed by Carrión and used in most of the 20th century mortuary bundle openings and inventories. Female garment types were
also defined in mortuary bundle documentation beginning
in 1933, but were not published. Frame (2007) developed a
proposal regarding the depiction of female attire and also
noted a form of loincloth resembling those excavated by
Kroeber at Cahuachi and analyzed by O’Neale (1937). Peters
and Tomasto (2017) discuss the expression of gender identities in garment types and forms of regalia.
Based on a review of all documented garment forms present in Necropolis mortuary bundles, I propose a more specific typology of male and female garment forms, useful for
discussing both gender and patterns of cultural association
and influence throughout the period of cemetery formation
and the Paracas-Nasca transition. While examples of the
same garment form may be embroidered with different motifs and in different styles, specific garment forms turn out
to be a strong marker of mortuary bundles constructed over
the same period. This is probably because they are emblematic of social affiliations expressed in the cultural practices of
garment production, the offering or collection of garments as
mortuary offerings, and the dressing of the ancestral bundle.5
Headdresses are particularly prominent and often well
preserved, as they are located on the individual’s head or
wrapped around “false heads” in the display layers, generally located at the apex of the mortuary bundle and therefore less subject to decay. Headdress elements appear to
have played a prominent role in signifying social identity
or affiliation of the deceased person, messages which were
replicated or transformed in the sequence of display layers,
reconstructions of the evolving identities of an ancestral figure (Deleonardis and Lau 2004, Peters 2010). Headdresses
are not only visually prominent elements of each mortuary
bundle, they are also formally diverse, particularly within
and among the male mortuary bundles.

2. Tello 1929; Tello 1959; Tello and Mejía 1979; Tello (comp.) 2012; Yacovleff and Muelle 1934
3. These techniques have been described and diagrammed by O’Neale (1932) and several of the other publications cited here.
4. Yacovleff and Muelle 1934, fig. 9 p. 91.
5. For discussion of the relationships between the formal variations we term ‘style’ and techniques, practices and habitus (Bourdieu 1977), as
well as intentioned or emblematic expressions of social identity, see Dietler and Herbich (1998), as well as essays in Conkey and Hastorf
(1990) and Carr (1995).

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Figure 2. End finishes of women’s warp-patterned bands, stitched in two layers and draped over the outer display layer of the mortuary
bundle. (a) WK 113 item 5, AMNH 41.2/8840, photo A. H. Peters. (b) WK 347 item 4, MNAAHP RT5009; photo Maria Jhong/ MNAAHP.

All headbands are constructed with S(2z) camelid hair
yarns6 similar to those used in the contemporary embroideries. While painstaking and complex, headband construction could have been a portable art, suited to the mobile
lives of herders and travelers. Headdress bands have been
documented arranged on the head of male individuals, and
are typically wrapped around a ‘false head’ structure created
by the bound apex of a male mortuary bundle. The forms
and techniques are diverse, and change over time. One form
of band is also found draped over the outer display layer of

some female mortuary bundles, dated to early phases of
the Wari Kayan cemetery sequence contemporary with Paracas phase 10.
The bands draped over female bundles7 are wide, constructed of two layers of warp-dominant plain weave, with
images created by substituting supplementary warps on one
or more contrasting colors, that float on the back when not in
use (Fig. 2). The two warp-faced panels have been stitched together back to back, enclosing these loose warps. Plain weave
with warp substitution (Rowe 1977) is also used in woven
borders on contemporary male tunic form 2.8 Only two examples of these wide bands associated with women have been

6. S(2z) refers to two z-spun (counterclockwise) yarns plied together in the S (clockwise) direction. I use a notation system closely related to that
developed by Splitstoser and Tiballi, explained in Splitstoser 2012.
7. Peters and Tomasto 2017, figs. 3 and 5, pp. 390-392.
8. Paul 1990, plates 2 and 4; Peters 2014a, figs. 4c, 6b, 6d p. 123, 130, 132; Peters 2014b, fig. 4e, 6a.


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Figure 3. Men’s looped headbands: an early form arranged on the man’s head: (a) WK 136 item 21, MRI DB-48; photo A. H. Peters. Later
forms wrapped around the ‘false head’ in the outer display layer: (b) WK 421 item 9a, MNAAHP RT1032; (b) WK 421 item 9, MNAAHP
RT1701; photos Maria Jhong/ MNAAHP.

well-documented to date: WK 113 item 5 (Fig. 2a) ends in a
long 4-ply fringe, with a wide tubular sleeve of cross-knit
looping covering the join while WK 347 item 5 (Fig. 2b) divides into three segments near each end.9 A simpler warppatterned plain weave band with a ‘stripe and ladder’ pattern, similar to the woven borders of a women’s dress,10 was
draped over the outer display layer of female bundle WK 326;
like that of WK 113, it was ornamented by two pairs of triangular yellow-feathered pendants attached by cotton cords.
While they were not found binding the apex of these female bundles, these bands are structurally related to contemporary headbands worn by men. Narrower headbands
9. MNAAHP 2013, fig. 96 pp. 172-3.
10. Peters and Tomasto 2017, fig. 6 p. 393.
11. Peters 2014b, fig. 4e.

with warp substitution are documented in contemporary
contexts at Ocucaje and on the head of the man in early bundle WK 110.11 Narrow warp-patterned ‘stripe and ladder’
headbands have been documented among later Wari Kayan
male contexts designated as phase EIP 1B or EIP 2, including WK 310 and WK 38.
Tubular looped headbands (Fig. 3) are documented
among early male contexts, both on the head of the individual and atop the outer display layer in WK 401, WK 381
and WK 13612 and combined with the close-knotted type
atop a display layer on WK 114 and WK 157. The early form
is relatively loose and flexible and divided into two or three

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thick ‘fingers’ at the finished ends. Several documented examples, such as WK 136 item 21 (Figure 3a), were placed in
a mortuary bundle with one end and about a meter of the
patterned tube completed, long yarns extending from the
unfinished end like a fringe. Linear mode images worked
in supplementary yarns in three or four colors depict motifs also common among Paracas Tradition textiles from the
Cavernas tombs or Ocucaje.
In later male bundles designated as EIP 1A or 1B, the
looped bands are longer and flat, more tightly made with
finer yarns, and divide into four, five or six tubular ‘fingers’
at each end,13 Complete examples are over four meters in
length. WK 421 items 9 and 9a (Fig. 3b, 3c), two looped
headbands arranged together, formed part of two sets of
matching garments. Their color and motifs each match Linear mode embroidery on borders and panels arrayed across
the plain weave ground fabric of a large mantle, ‘unkuña’
type tunic and man’s wrap-around skirt placed in the bundle.14 Many tubular looped headbands conserve bunches of
small yellow feathers bound with cotton yarn at one or both
ends. Short versions have been found in bundles containing
relatively elaborate miniature garments.15
Close-knotted headbands (Fig. 4) are typical of early Wari
Kayan male contexts and fragments have been identified
in much later bundles, perhaps placed as heritage objects.
The genre is defined by a close knotted panel depicting repeating motifs, flanked by two panels in a complex diagonal interlace forming a diamond pattern, followed by two
panels of weft patterning over grouped warps that typically
depict a simplified version of the central motif, followed by
the warps extending in two long yarn fringes. Complete
examples are about 25 cm. wide and about 4.5 to six meters in length. A narrower type depicting smaller motifs16 is
typical of Paracas tradition contexts in the Cavernas tombs
(Medina 2009) and appears at Ocucaje in several styles and
color combinations. As Medina has noted, the wider Necropolis type depicts Linear mode motifs like those embroidered on contemporary mantles.17 One of the knotted headbands on the apex of WK 114, together designated as item 6,
is in an Ocucaje style depicting two alternating motifs (Fig.
4a), while the other (Fig. 4b) is a wider type typical of the
early Necropolis mortuary bundles. A knotted headband was
worn by each of the men in WK 210 and WK 352,18 and one
was wrapped over two headcloths on the head of the man

Figure 4. Men’s close knotted and looped headbands: WK 114 item
6, three headbands and extra fringe, originally wrapped around
the top of the outer layer of the mortuary bundle to create a huge
‘false head’ structure. (a) The upper, Ocucaje style knotted headband was at the core, with a looped headband wrapped at the
front to create a ‘topknot’; (b) details and overview of the larger
headband with two-headed bird motifs wrapped beneath it. AMNH
41.2/8739, 41.2/8742; photos A. H. Peters.

in WK 199. Knotted headbands also wrap the ‘false head’ in
display layers in WK 210, WK 157 and WK 49.19

12. Lavallée 2008, fig. 11, p. 88; Verde 2009, fig. 16, pp. 70.
13. Lavallée 2008, fig. 57, pp. 151, fig. 71, p. 180; Verde 2009, figs. 60-61, pp. 116-7.
14. Carrión 1949, plate VI; Kajitani 1982, figs. 26 and 30; Tello and Mejía 1979, cover.
15. Lavallée 2008, fig. 23, p. 104, fig. 29 pp. 108-9; Verde 2009, figs. 35, 37 pp. 87-8.
16. For example, MNAAHP 2013, fig. 97 pp. 175-6.
17. Lavallée 2008, fig. 12, pp. 89; Verde 2009, fig. 49 p. 71, fig. 52 pp. 104-5.
18. Peters 2014b, fig. 5f.
19. Lavallée 2008, fig. 12, pp. 89; Verde 2009, fig. 17 p. 71.



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Figure 5. Men’s oblique interlaced headbands: (a) WK 26 item 13, long monochrome band originally wrapped around the top of the bundle, MNAAHP RT37690; photo A. H. Peters. (b) WK 421 item 10, band conserved in position, arranged on the top of the mortuary bundle,
MNAAHP RT14094; (c) WK 38 item 7, one of two textured bands, part of the headdress of the outer display layer, MNAAHP RT2847; (e)
WK 38 item 43, headband in the form of a series of serpents, wrapped around the top of an inner layer, MNAAHP RT1875; photos Maria
Jhong/ MNAAHP. (d) WK 319 item 3, hairpiece with one monochrome and two wide textured bands, MNAAHP RT3858; photo A. H. Peters.

Oblique interlaced headbands (Fig. 5) have a long history. A relatively narrow monochrome type constructed
with pairs of camelid hair yarns is present in early contexts
that include late Paracas tradition garment types, such as
Cateo (test pit) 99 tomb 2, and later recurs in EIP 1A contexts such as WK 26 (Fig. 5a), as well as EIP 2 contexts
like WK 319 (Fig. 5d). WK 26 item 13, originally wrapped
around the apex of the bundle, is a very long band, less
than two cm. in width, which has never been extended for
measurement. While oblique interlaced ties on men’s skirts
and loincloths are structurally similar, the headbands have
tightly interlaced paired elements and appear to have been
constructed from one end, while the ties have a looser 2/2
twill-like interlace symmetrical around a center line, and
may have been constructed in pairs using a sprang technique (Frame 1991).
20. Yacovleff and Muelle 1934, fig. 15 p. 119.
21. Peters and Tomasto 2017, fig. 16 p. 430.

Wider headbands combine balanced oblique interlace
of paired yarns with ‘rep’ single-faced bands of compact
elements, in one or more contrasting colors, that cross in
patterns resembling a three-strand braided or plied structure.20 Where their arrangement has been preserved, they
may bind the forehead and topknot of a man,21 or form a
cap-like hemisphere around the top of a mortuary bundle,
as preserved in WK 421 item 10 (Fig. 5b), with the ends
ornamented with tufts of yellow feathers. Examples from
male bundles designated as EIP 1A usually have a red background of paired elements with the ‘rep’ bands in dark
green, dark blue, purple or yellow-gold. In a few examples,
these other colors are used instead for the background. The
more elaborate and better-preserved examples may have
the ends covered in sleeves of looping ending in tubular
‘fingers’. While some examples have not been extended

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Figure 6. Men’s tapestry headbands: (a) WK 89 item 7, part of the headdress of the outer display layer, MNAAHP RT183; (b) WK 38 item
8, part of the headdress of the outer display layer, MNAAHP RT 3739; photos Maria Jhong/ MNAAHP.

for measurement, these headbands also may be over three
meters long.
As analyzed by Frame (1991), oblique interlaced bands
in later contexts, designated as EIP 2, have surfaces dominated by compact single-faced bands that create diverse textured patterns, exemplified by WK 38 items 6 and 7 (Fig.
5c).22 This headband style, with looped end finishes, was
found arranged on the head of WK 23 (Peters and Tomasto
2016, fig. 16 p. 430) while a similar band wrapped the ‘false
head’ in the outer display layer. Two Nasca-related bundles
have headbands worked in sections of different colors: WK
38 item 43 (Fig. 5e), two cm. wide and almost 4.5 meters in
length, is worked in eight sections with different color combinations that each end in a three-dimensional looped snake
head. Similarly, WK 451 item 3a is worked in segments ending in tubular looped ‘fingers’ that transform each into a
image of a headband.23 In late bundles designated as EIP 2,
wide oblique interlaced headbands dominated by diagonal
‘rep’ bands appear without looped end finishes. WK 318, WK

319 and WK 298 have wider, shorter headbands worked in
relatively dark hues of red, green, purple-blue and brown
and others worked in bright pastel hues – hallmarks of different Nasca-related styles.
Tapestry bands (Fig. 6) appear in several male mortuary bundles designated as EIP 1A, 1B or 2, usually in a fragmentary state. Three relatively well-preserved examples
have been documented, all combining several motifs on a
red background. WK 217 item 35 was wrapped around the
head of the man and secured his hair in a topknot.24 Components of the headdress in the outer display layer, WK
89 item 6 alternates three types of motifs: a pair of horizontal figures linked by a serpentine appendage, a double-headed serrated serpentine-insect figure, and a human
figure carrying a staff.25 WK 89 item 7 (Fig. 6a) alternates
five motifs: a set of six stepped blocks, a condor figure
with head bent back, a rayed head, a double-headed serpent and a profile spotted feline, similar in style to the
band in WK 217. WK 38 item 8 (Fig. 6b) depicts a series

22. Frame 1991, figs. 29-40 pp. 147-171. Also see MNAAHP p. 122 fig. 34.
23. Kajitani 1982, fig. 39; Lavallée 2008, fig. 78, pp. 193; Verde 2009, fig. 75, pp. 147.
24. Yacovleff and Muelle fig 16 p. 121.
25. Paul 1990 plate 5.


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Figure 7. Men’s sling-form headdress elements: (a) WK 91 item 54, maguey fiber sling with complete functional components, MNAAHP
RT3443; (b) WK 91 item 56, sling with a human hair ornament replacing the maguey fiber tassel, MNAAHP RT3442; (c) WK 217 item 47,
maguey headdress element with sling-form components and looped tassel cover, MNAAHP RT5675; (d) WK 253 item 45a, maguey headdress band composed of sling tassels and pairs of braided cords, MNAAHP RT931; (e) WK 89 item 10, sling with yellow feathers replacing the maguey fiber tassel, MNAAHP RT6416; (f) WK 23 item 15, sling-form headdress ornament of maguey and human hair, MNAAHP;
photos A. H. Peters.

of profile felines with a mouth appendage ending in a human head, with sporadic substitutions of a horizontal anthropomorphic figure with two short and one long head
appendage, as well as a mouth appendage ending in a human head. The figure styles in these tapestry bands combines elements of Linear and Broad Line mode design, with
figure styles reminiscent of polychrome double cloth textiles found in the Nasca region.
Sling-form headbands (Fig. 7) are ubiquitous among
the Wari Kayan male mortuary bundles, and also vary over
time. Functional slings (Fig. 7a, 7e) are braided of maguey
26. Probably Furcraea occidentalis, a South American agave species.
27. Yacovleff and Muelle 1934 pp. 113-4.

fiber cordage, with a ring of cotton yarns at the end retained
in the hand, a diamond-shaped ‘basket’ to hold the projectile
and a tassel of braided and bound maguey fiber26 at the end
released.27 Variable spin direction indicates that the maguey
fiber was added and twisted as the object was made, which
facilitated the separation and union of braided elements to
create the ‘basket’. Slings found near the body in early male
bundles may have been part of the individual’s headdress.
In later male bundles, functional slings continue to be present, and also elements of slings such as a series of ‘baskets’
or tassels are combined to create headdress ornaments (Fig.

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Figure 8. Headdress elements combining maguey fiber and dyed camelid hair: WK 253 item 29, MNAAHP RT2574; WK 253 item 28,
MNAAHP RT1876; WK 253 item 35, MNAAHP RT2575; photos Maria Jhong/ MNAAHP.

7b, 7c), sometimes documented on the head. Human hair
is used to ornament the sling tassel in WK 91 (Fig. 7b), and
combined with maguey fiber in a sling-form ornament in
WK 23 (Fig. 7f).
In the late bundle WK 253, a group of maguey fiber headdress bands (Fig. 8) are created using complex flat braiding
techniques and incorporate camelid hair yarns or twisted fiber in bright colors, including examples divided in long sections of different colors (Fig. 8c), a form reminiscent of the

sectioned headband in WK 451. Each of the mortuary bundles designated as EIP 2 contains a form of headdress element
found in no other bundle at Wari Kayan. These late contexts
are associated with unusually large numbers of artifacts created to be worn by an individual or wrapped around the apex
of the bundle, none of them designed to match another garment. These changes suggest a shift in the aspects of social
identity expressed by headdress ornaments in mortuary ritual, and very likely also in other social contexts.


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Figure 9. Headcloth form 1: (a) WK 199 item 43c, wrapped around the man’s head under headband 43a and headcloth 43b, MNAAHP
RT18671, photo A. H. Peters. (b) WK 147 item 31, wrapped around the man’s head over headcloth 32, MNAAHP RT2688; photo Maria
Jhong/ MNAAHP. (c) WK 114 item 50a, wrapped around the top of the bundle over proto-Nasca style headcloth 50b in a display layer
sealed within the bundle, AMNH 41.2/8787; photo AMNH. (d) WK 157 item 30, part of a display layer with many headdress elements,
sealed within the bundle, MNAAHP RT1396, photo Maria Jhong/ MNAAHP.

The majority of Paracas Necropolis headcloths are long and
relatively narrow, constructed of two seamed panels of fine,
loosely woven 1:1 plain weave with narrow Linear mode embroidered borders on the sides (weft selvages) with bracketlike extensions on the ends (loom end or warp selvages).
This type of headcloth may be twisted and wrapped around
the head of a male individual28 or the ‘false head’ of a male
or female mortuary bundle, and is the most common form
in early Wari Kayan mortuary contexts. Examples woven
of natural cotton range from about 2.25 to 2.75 meters in
length and 50 to 70 cm. in width, while examples woven of
dyed camelid hair range from about 1.25 to 1.75 meters in
length and about 40 to 45 cm. in width. The latter appear
28. Peters and Tomasto 2017, fig. 14 p. 428.

in later contexts, associated with other distinctions in style
and range of motifs suggesting that they represent a different production tradition.
Early forms of this headcloth form 1 (Fig. 9) are woven
with fine over-spun cotton yarns, with the final twist in either the S or Z direction. Natural cotton colors vary from
cream white to beige, ochre, or a silvery light brown. While
the tubular (and sometimes kinked) look resembles a single
ply yarn, close examination of some examples reveals that
two elements have been joined, though an initial spin direction may not be visible. In the two superimposed headcloths in early bundle WK 199, the cloth is very loose and
flexible and the embroidered figures difficult to discern (Fig.
9a). Well-preserved examples in EH 10 male bundles such
as WK 147 item 31 (Fig. 9b) and WK 114 item 50a (Fig. 9c)

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Figure 10. Headcloth form 1 variants from EIP 1A contexts: (a) WK 94 item 46, found with a pin of raptor feathers in a display layer sealed
within the bundle, MNAAHP RT5939; (b) WK 421 item 68a, part of a display layer sealed within the bundle, MNAAHP RT2612; photos Maria Jhong/ MNAAHP. (c) WK 12 item 382-51, with color reconstructed (original dark blue cloth was poorly preserved), MNAAHP RT3918;
based on MNAAHP catalogue photo. (d) WK12 item 382-50a, originally a darker green, with headcloth 51 forms one of three pairs of headcloths in the second display layer arranged over the man, MNAAHP RT2831; photo Maria Jhong/ MNAAHP.

define a distinctive Linear mode style group (Peters’ Linear 2) with figures developed within a rectangle alternating
with areas of the background color, stitch direction changing on a diagonal at each corner and a unique edge binding that incorporates three rows of darned ‘plain weave’ instead of looping.29 This type of headcloth continues to be
common in transitional bundles such as WK 49, WK 94 and
WK 157 (Fig. 9d) as well as predominantly EIP 1A bundles
such as WK 16 and WK 421, where it diversifies in form and
component materials.
In male bundles transitional to EIP1A, headcloth form 1
appears with a wider range of component materials, color
schemes, imagery and forms of edge binding (Fig. 10). The
cloth may be woven of either natural cotton or dark blue
29. Paul 1982; Peters 1997; Peters 2014a, fig. 4-2.

camelid hair yarn, the borders may be a bit wider, and some
edge finishes incorporate looping rather than a darned finish. Linear 2 design (Fig. 10a) continues, but also continuous Linear ‘twisted strand’ motifs appear, linking the headcloth to a mantle or garment set featuring the same motifs
(Figs. 10b, 10c). Among bundles designated as EIP 1A, new
background colors appear such as dark green, blue-purple or yellow-gold, and Linear 2 embroidery appear for the
first time on other garment types, such as unkuña tunics.
Among mortuary bundles transitional to EIP 1B, headcloth
form 1 may be woven of dyed cotton. In WK 378 item 16 and
WK 12 (382) item 50a (Fig. 10d), headcloths with Linear
mode borders depict motifs adapted from Block Color imagery on other garments in the bundle, in the wider range


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Figure 11. Mosaic style
headcloths from early contexts:
(a) WK 113 item 4, draped over
the head of the woman, AMNH
41.2/8839b; (b) WK 352 item
29, fragmentary headcloth
border, MRI DB-04; (c) WK 352
item 61, fragmentary headcloth
border, MRI DB-19; (d) WK 352
item 74, fragmentary headcloth
border, MRI DB-14; (e) WK 352
item 64, headcloth border with
figures resembling a geoglyph
in the Ica valley, MRI DB-09;
(f) WK 352 item 70, headcloth
border, MRI DB-23; photos A.
H. Peters.

of colors present on those embroideries.30 Features like a
looped tab fringe, or tiny figures embroidered on the central panel, link these hybrid headcloths to later or more
Nasca-influenced types of headcloths in these contexts, and
also in later male bundles.
Throughout the Paracas-Nasca transition there are other
headcloth forms present, some associated with ‘outsider’
styles and several associated with female bundles. One
style group, largely known from fragmentary examples, has
wider borders with a continuous, diagonally organized ‘mosaic’ pattern of Linear mode motifs (Fig. 11), shown here in
30. Lavallée 2008, fig. 72 p. 181; Verde 2009, fig. 69 p. 136.

examples from the EH 10 female bundle WK 113 (Fig. 11a)
and the gender-ambiguous, Ocucaje-related bundle WK 352
(Figs. 11b-11f). Several of these headcloths with continuous
border patterning can be considered ‘proto-Nasca’ in style,
though they appear in well-documented contexts designated
as EH 10. One group (Fig. 11c, 11d) depicts figures in simple,
largely monochrome styles intermediate between the Linear
and Block Color modes, including some of the earliest textile examples of motifs that appear on Ocucaje 10B ceramics. A motif in an unusual Linear style (Fig. 11e) closely resembles a late Paracas geoglyph in the Ica region.

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Figure 12. Headcloth form 2:
(a) WK 352 item 94, one of
three similar headcloths in
inner display layers of this
unusual trans-gendered
context, MRI DB-25; photo
A. H. Peters.
(b) WK 28 item 24, one of four
similar headcloths grouped
in an inner display layer,
MNAAHP RT2852; photo
Maria Jhong/ MNAAHP.

Wide headcloths (Fig. 12) are composed of two seamed
panels that total about 95 cm. to 1 m. wide, with very narrow borders (1.5 cm). One group of unusually wide headcloths in bundle WK 352, items 75, 77 and 78, has red borders embroidered in the Linear 2 style.31 Another distinctive
group of headcloths in WK 352 (Fig. 12a) has narrow monochrome borders with ‘twisted strand’ images created by patterns in the stitch direction.32 Created with over-spun ochre
cotton yarns with a final S or Z direction, the two seamed
panels create a headcloth 77 to 82 cm. wide and between
175 and 195 cm. in length. Similar to headcloth form 1, these
wide headcloths had been wrapped, turban-like, around the
apex of the mortuary bundle.
Later female bundles, designated as EIP 1, are also
31. Peters 2014a, fig. 4-2a, b.
32. Peters 2014a, fig. 4-3a, b.
33. Peters 2014a, fig. 4-3c, d.

adorned by wide headcloths. WK 28 item 24 (Fig. 12b), typical in form, is one of six similar headcloths superimposed
around the apex of an inner layer of the bundle. About
1.65 to 1.70 m. in length and 95 cm to 1 m. in width, it is
composed by two seamed panels of loosely woven, often
dyed S(2z) cotton edged by narrow borders, less than two
cm. in width. These headcloths feature a purple or green
background with tiny Block Color mode figures of birds,
felines or other Nasca-related imagery.33 Their Nasca-related color schemes and imagery contrasts with the reddominant four-color Linear mode embroidery or woven
borders of most other garments in a group of approximately contemporary female mortuary bundles, including WK 1 and WK 234.


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Figure 13. Headcloth form 3, examples from garment sets placed on inner display layers in EIP 1B male mortuary bundles: (a) WK 310 item 33, MNAAHP
RT793; (b) WK 262 item 20, RT1449; (c) WK 262 item 40, MNAAHP RT2911;
photo Maria Jhong/ MNAAHP.

Among male bundles designated at EIP 1B,
a shorter type of headcloth (form 3) becomes
common, usually woven with dyed camelid hair
(Fig. 13). Usually less than a meter in length,
these headcloths range from about 33 to 40cm.
in width, woven of a single panel. Most have
‘bracket’ shaped embroidered borders with Block
Color figures as well as the types of fringe present on contemporary mantles and other garment types. This headcloth form often appears
as part of a garment set, and can be as diverse
in color and ornament as any other type of garment.34 WK 310 item 33 (Fig. 13a) appears to
pay homage to traditional headcloth border design, but is embroidered on a Nasca-related type
of purple cloth and edged by a triangular looped
fringe. WK 262 item 20 (Fig. 13b) is early Nasca
in both technique and design, depicting paired
hummingbirds around a flower and edged by a
fine plied fringe created directly on the garment
margin. WK 262 item 40 (Fig. 13c) has continuous patterning and plied fringe on lateral borders without bracket ends, traits atypical of the
Wari Kayan assemblage.
A long, narrow headcloth (form 4), based
on a single woven panel of dyed camelid hair,
has wide straight lateral borders (Fig. 14a-b).
This form has been documented only in WK
292 and WK 190, both male mortuary contexts that include unusual, Nasca-related textiles.35 WK 292, designated as EIP 1A, has an
inner display layer wrapped in an extraordinary mantle, item 190-17, embroidered with
diverse figures that all face in the same direction. 36 In the layer below, headcloth 190-28
(Fig. 14a), a panel of dark blue camelid hair
1.85 m. by 30 cm. embroidered with wide red
borders with unfinished Linear mode imagery, was found together with a matching unkuña tunic. WK 190, designated as EIP 1B,
contained the famous painted ‘Calendar Mantle’ 290-45 and ‘casulla’ tunic panel 290-13.37
Headcloths 290-48 (Fig. 14b) and 290-49, juxtaposed in an inner display layer near the ‘Calendar Mantle’, are each about 33 cm. wide and

34. See Kajitani 1982, fig. 38.
35. WK 12, WK 190 and WK 292 form part of a group of bundles with numbers switched by Tello in 1928, to avoid sending unique contexts to
be opened in Seville as part of the Iberoamerican Exposition of 1929, so the inventory numbers created when the bundle was opened do not
match the original excavation number.
36. Peters 2010 fig. 23 p. 222-3.
37. Aponte 2006; Tello 1959, plates LXVIII- LXXVIII, Tello and Mejía 1979, figs. 106 and 109-111 pp. 398-402.

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Figure 14. Headcloths form 4 and 5: (a) Form 4: WK 292 item 190-28, part of an inner layer of the mortuary bundle, MNAAHP RT1782;
(b) WK 190 item 290-48, part of an inner layer of the mortuary bundle, MNAAHP RT4561; photos Maria Jhong/ MNAAHP. Form 5: (c)
WK 190 item 290-62 (or 67), headcloth over the individual’s head, MNAAHP RT2593; photo Maria Jhong/ MNAAHP. (d) WK188 item 12,
part of an inner layer of the mortuary bundle, AMNH 41.2/8873; photo A. H. Peters.

respectively 2.14 and 2.44 m. in length, embroidered in
the Block Color mode. They each form part of a garment
set, which correspond to two mantles of the outer display layer.38 These headcloths demonstrate continuity in
an emblematic style that sporadically has been placed in
the Necropolis of Wari Kayan, apparently coming from an
outside producer community closely linked to the early
Nasca tradition.
An intriguing type of headcloth (form 5), present in only
a few male bundles designated as EIP 1B, has proportions
and embroidery layout resembling a woman’s mantle but
differs in being smaller in scale, embroidered on fine loosely
woven cotton cloth, and edged with a plied yarn fringe (Fig.
14c-d). WK 188 item 12 (Fig. 14d) has lateral borders and
transverse bands with two wider bands flanking the central axis, a unique feature of the woman’s mantle.39 The
beige cotton panel, about 27 cm in width and 68 cm. long, is

embroidered with Linear mode two-headed birds on a purple background. Placed over the head of the man in WK 190,
headcloth 290-6240 (Fig. 14c) has a panel of beige cotton
about 29 by 67 cm., embroidered in a ‘heritage style’ with
Broad Line double-headed bird figures, which match a second headcloth beneath that also resembles a reduced-scale
heritage mantle. These headcloths have been embroidered in
Paracas-related styles characteristic of contexts designated
EH 10B, but the colors, yarn characteristics, and other production details indicate that they were produced later. Their
similarities in form and motif suggest a social link between
these adjacent mortuary contexts, though other garment
types, embroidery styles and headdress elements in these
two bundles are dissimilar. In the later EIP 2 bundle WK 319,
headcloth 24 is similar in its proportions and the organization of its embroidered decoration, but does not imitate the
unique features of the woman’s mantle.

38. Aponte 2006; Lavallée 2008, fig. 13 pp. 90-93, fig. 14-16, pp. 96-100; MNAAHP 2013, fig. 31, pp. 116-6, fig. 81, pp. 152-3, figs. 89-91 pp. 1625; Verde 2009, figs. 18-20 pp. 72-5, fig. 68 pp. 132-5.
39. Peters and Tomasto 2017, fig. 7 p. 394.
40. Aponte 2006; Lavallée 2008, fig. 43, pp. 119; MNAAHP 2013, p. 121 fig. 33.


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Figure 15. (a) Headcloth form 6, part of
the group of garments termed ‘anako’ in
Tello’s research notes and inventories,
WK 38 item 39c, grouped with other
anako type garments in an inner layer
of this early EIP 2 mortuary bundle,
MNAAHP RT2936; photo Maria Jhong/
MNAAHP. (b) Early Nasca style headcloth,
WK 318 item 3, placed atop the outer
display layer of this late EIP 2 mortuary
bundle, MNAAHP RT1231; photo Maria
Jhong/ MNAAHP.

Headcloth form 6 (Fig. 15a) recurs in male mortuary bundles designated EIP 1B or EIP 2. It forms part of a garment
system with small mantles, headcloths, loincloths41 and tunics with continuous embroidered borders on all garment
margins, termed Anako in most of the 20th century unwrapping notes and inventories. This garment system has formal
similarities to garments excavated at Cahuachi by Kroeber
in 1926,42 including loincloths identified by Frame (2007).
Similar in their proportions to the ‘Anako’ mantles and loincloths, the headcloths are relatively short and wide, ranging

from 60 cm. to 95 cm. in width while
only 95 cm. to 1.25 m. in length. The
headcloths are distinguished by fine,
relatively loosely woven cotton cloth,
which often has been dyed and is found
in a fragmentary state.
Among the male mortuary bundles
created in the final phase of the Wari
Kayan cemetery, headcloths in Nascarelated styles appear on the apex of
the bundle in the final display layer.
This represents a change in practice,
as among the earlier bundles, particularly Nasca-related textiles were hidden beneath headcloths and mantles
in more common Wari Kayan styles.
For example, a fine, deteriorated headcloth embroidered in early Nasca techniques, colors and motifs originally
covered the headbands and hairpiece
of WK 319 item 3 (Fig. 5e). It was preserved as a border fragment associated
with other elements that crowned the
outer display layer, removed for conservation, and re-associated in 2006.43
The adjacent mortuary bundle, WK 318, appears to be
the latest complex male bundle documented in the Necropolis of Wari Kayan and was crowned by headcloth 3 (Fig.
15b).44 Like others in the EIP 2 Wari Kayan mortuary bundles, this headcloth is relatively small, totaling 53 cm in
width by 84 cm in length. It is an early Nasca textile. Diagnostic features include bicolor yarns, including brown
and beige yarns plied and used to weave the central panel.

41. Frame 2007 p. 69 fig. 9.
42. O’Neale 1937, plate XXXIVa.
43. See Paul 1990 plate 6 for arrangement circa 1980, and MNAAHP 2013 fig. 93 p. 168 for current arrangement.
44. Previously published in Kajitani 1982, fig 37; MNAAHP 2013, fig. 84 pp. 156-7.

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Double-faced embroidery is used to create the stepped lines
and flowers there, while the yarn fringe has been created
directly on the warp end selvages. Yet another diagnostic
Nasca feature is the independently constructed looped figurative border constructed on separately woven bands, depicting birds. A row of looped tabs on its inner margin is
stitched to the edges of the central cloth. Despite these diverse Nasca-related features, this headcloth differs in style
from those recurrent in Nasca 3 contexts, either because it
is somewhat earlier or because it was created elsewhere.
The Brooklyn Museum’s “Paracas Textile,” said to have ornamented the apex of a male mortuary bundle excavated
in Arena Blanca prior to 1923, is perhaps the most famous
headcloth in an early Nasca style found atop a mortuary
bundle at the Paracas site.45
Hair styles, caps and fringes
Hair arrangements are an important aspect of the headdress, as well as the personal identity still visible in the initial postmortem ritual. The men and women at the core of
the Wari Kayan mortuary bundles have fairly diverse hair
arrangements. Some arrangements, such as shoulder-length
hair interspersed with small braids or more carefully arranged rows of five or more neat, tight braids, are worn
by both men and women. Men wearing oblique interlaced
headbands or with their hair bound by a skein of yarn, sling
or cord typically have their hair pulled forward into a topknot, often over their right temple. The man in WK 12 (a
bundle opened as 382) wore a moustache, while WK 52 and
at least one other man are described as wearing a beard.46
Like tattooing and face painting, these aspects were covered
by cloth in the first phase of mortuary ritual, but are carefully depicted on some ‘warrior’ figures in contemporary
embroidered and painted imagery.
Ornaments created with human hair or dark hues of camelid hair become important in contexts designated as EIP
1A, and they become more common and more elaborate in
contexts where Nasca influence appears to be more dominant and direct. Where camelid hair is used in these artifacts, the long, relatively straight, coarse fiber and the hues
of dark brown or grey appear to imitate human hair, and
can be difficult to distinguish without close examination.
Caps created using looping or knotting techniques (Fig.
16a and 16b) appear in male bundles designated as EIP 1B.
In several cases, the individual is described as balding in the

Figure 16. Cap-like headdress elements from EIP 1B male contexts:
(a) and (b) WK 89 items 46 and 47, looped caps of camelid hair
and human hair, MNAAHP RT2941, RT2942; (c) WK 89 item 11, bag
or headdress element with bands of more compact knotting creating a diamond pattern, MNAAHP RT113; WK 190 item 290-28, Sspun, unevenly Z-plied human hair cords joined in two bands of
loose oblique interlace, ornamented by Spondylus sp. shell beads
with an organic adhesive, tubular looped camelid hair bands and
feathers, MNAAHP RT2524; photos A. H. Peters.

unwrapping notes or dissection protocol. Three hemispheric
caps of close simple looping in WK 89 are almost identical47
but two are made with spun and plied human hair and one
of dark brown camelid hair. A cap found in WK 451 is described and illustrated as more complex in structure, including side flaps decorated with feathers.48 In the contemporary tomb WK 190, item 290-28 may have originally formed
part of this genre of headdress, recovered in the form of two

45. Brooklyn Museum 38.121, published, for example, in Harcourt 1934 plates 88-104 Tello 1959, plate LXXIX, Kajitani 1982, fig. 48; Lavallée
2008, pp. 210-211.
46. See, for example, Tello and Mejía 1979, p. 453.
47. Paul 1991, fig 19 p. 195-6.
48. Tello 1959, fig. 44 p. 289). WK 190 item 290-28 (Figure 15d; also see Aponte 2006.


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Figure 17. Plied and braided
hair ornaments from EIP
2 male mortuary bundle:
(a) WK 318 item C, Z-plied
human hair fringe, MNAAHP
RT25883; (b) WK 319 item
95, S-plied cotton and
human hair fringe, MNAAHP
RT4154; (c) WK 253 item
54, Z-plied cotton and
human hair fringe, MNAAHP
RT1578; (d) WK 253 item
58, band of multiple layers
of Z-plied human hair
fringe, MNAAHP RT3893;
(e) WK 319 item 20, oblique
interlaced hair band,
MNAAHP RT3440; photos A.
H. Peters.

bands each composed of a row of locks of human hair decorated with diagonal lines of shell disks, encased near the
bottom in a sleeve of fine close looping of unusual design
and continuing in the form of a fringe ornamented with
feathers (Fig. 16d). Their structure is also related to human
hair fringes discussed below.
Small hammock-shaped or bag-like objects of simple
knotted netting in natural cotton fiber are often found close
to the body of male individuals. These often appear to be
freshly made and unused, and come in a range of forms.49
Hammock-shaped knotted headdresses are associated with
Paracas Tradition contexts in the Cerro Colorado tombs and
at Ocucaje. We recorded one on the head of the man in mortuary bundle Arena Blanca 4, corresponding to the Paracas Necropolis mortuary tradition and designated as EIP
1B.50 Two caps constructed with decorative knotting patterns were recovered in WK 89: item 11 (Fig. 16c) has diamond shaped designs, while item 43 has a more complex
knotted pattern creating dorsal insect-bird figures.51 These
complex knotted caps are unique among the mortuary bundles documented to date. Other unique artifact types found
in WK 89 include embroidered cloths folded and stitched
into a triangle, interpreted by Paul as a type of loincloth but
which also might be a headdress element. The diversity of
forms of regalia and the concentration of particular types in
49. See Yacovleff and Muelle 1934, fig, 17 pp. 121-4.
50. Peters and Tomasto 2015, pp 318-319..
51. Paul 1990, figs. 37 and 38 pp. 212-3.
52. MNAAHP 2013, fig. 95 p. 170.

a single tomb or in only two or three of those studied suggests diverse social origins of both the individuals and their
mortuary assemblages.
Masses of human hair, twisted skeins, plied or braided
cords, and fringes bound to a cotton cord (Fig. 17) are interrelated artifacts included in the later male bundles. Differences
in the color, thickness of strands and other characteristics indicate that they are made from the hair of individuals other
than the person at the core of the mortuary bundle. The use
of human hair in some sling-form headdress elements, discussed above, may be related. While trophy heads have not
been identified to date in any Wari Kayan gravelot, objects of
human hair may play an analogous role; they bring the power
of another individual into a ritual context. Complete human
hair fringes have been identified in WK 190 and in three male
mortuary bundles designated as EIP 2. The fringe structure
and production practices, well as human hair cords placed
in the same bundle, vary among the mortuary contexts: WK
190, WK 318 (Fig. 17a) and WK 253 (Figs. 17c and 17d) have
fringes of hanks of hair doubled, bound and twisted into short
Z-plied cords (in some cases incorporating cotton yarns), the
hair hanging loose below, while WK 319 has S-ply cords (Fig.
17b), 3-strand braids (Figs. 5e) and oblique interlaced bands
(Fig. 17e). Fringes of the plied type can be combined to construct a hemispheric wig.52

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Figure 18. Wig-like headdresses of locks
of hair and feathers attached to a looped
(a) WK 226 item 3, crowned the outer
display layer of a woman’s mortuary
bundle, MNAAHP RT7091;
(b) WK 26 item 2, crowned the outer display layer of a man’s mortuary bundle,
(c) WK 188 item 3, crowned the outer
display layer of a man’s mortuary bundle, over a crescent-shaped reed headdress with brown and yellow feathers,
AMNH 41.2/8864; photos A. H. Peters.

The ‘false head’ of a mortuary bundle can be crowned
by a wig-like headdress, which combines a looped cap-like
structure with hair fringe, and is associated with feathered
ornaments (Fig. 18). The outer display layer of the female
bundle WK 226 was topped by a looped cap decorated with
Z-plied cords of human hair decorated with yellow feathers
(Fig. 18a) and a similar cap was found on an inner display
layer.53 WK 26 item 2 (Fig. 18b) is a cap similar in structure

with more prominent featherwork, though not as well preserved, placed on the outer display layer of a male bundle
designated as EIP 1A. WK 188 item 3 (Fig. 18c) is a looped
cap decorated with doubled and bound hanks of gray-brown
hair, possibly camelid, placed on the apex of the outer display layer of this EIP 1B male bundle over another headdress ornament of fine reeds decorated with brown and yellow feathers.

53. Vreeland ms. 1975, consulted in the library and archive of the MNAAHP.


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Figure 19. Feathered headdress pins and bird or animal effigies: (a) WK 400 item 6a, wood pin with raptor and parrot feathers, MNAAHP
RT3021; (b) WK 421 item 6a, cane pin with oropendola feathers, MNAAHP RT3022; (c) WK 94 item 6, bone pin with oropendola feathers, MNAAHP RT2959; (d) Arena Blanca 4 item 20, gull beak in looped cylinder, MNAAHP MO3927; (e) WK 147 item 38, wood pin with
parrot feathers, MNAAHP RT5300; (f) WK 292 item 190-9, wood pin with brown feathers, MNAAHP RT6634; (g) Arena Blanca 157 item
4, assorted triangular pendants and mask with a fox muzzle, skin covered with adhesive and parrot feathers, MNAAHP RT24930; (h) WK
258 item 2, bone pin with puna ibis feathers, MNAAHP RT6434; photos A. H. Peters.

Animal and bird headdress elements
Yacovleff (1933) provides an excellent analysis of feathered
headdress ornaments. Peters and Tomasto (1917) review
some additional artifacts from mortuary contexts unopened
at the time Yacovleff wrote. The composition of the feathered pins and tassels inserted into men’s headdresses (Fig.
19) changes over time, with blue and yellow macaw (Ara

ararauna) important in bundles designated as EH 10 and
raptor feathers and mealy parrots (Amazona sp.) becoming prominent in bundles designated as EIP 1 and 2. Some
contemporary bundles, such as WK 94 and WK 421, share
tassels of similar design made with feathers of the same
species, possibly indicating the same producers or ritual
specialist. While color and design are certainly important,
the presence of feathers from sociable Amazonian parrots

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(Fig. 19e, etc.) or oropendulas (Figs. 19b, 19c), fierce Andean
raptors (Fig. 19a) or water birds of the Andean lakes (Fig.
19h) and Pacific shores (Fig. 19f), embody multiple levels of
significance related to their habits and geographic origins.
Wood and bone pins may also bear significance in their material, as well as their form.
The body parts of birds and animals can be incorporated
in headdress elements like those depicted in embroidered
and painted imagery. Andean fox pelts54 are placed on the
apex of the outer display layer of many male mortuary bundles designated as EIP 1A and others transitional to EIP 1B.
Some have the short reddish-brown hair characteristic of
the coastal Sechura fox (Pseudolopex sechurae), while others have a thicker, variegated pelt more typical of southern
Central Andean foxes (Pseudolopex culpaeus).55 Feathered
skin ornaments incorporating a fox muzzle that crowned
the outer display layer of Arena Blanca 157 (Fig. 19g) have
been interpreted as either a fox or feline, both of which appear as headdress elements in embroidered imagery. However, feline pelts or body parts have not yet been identified
in the Wari Kayan gravelots. Feathered cloth headdresses
with large ‘Oculate being’ ringed eyes and whiskers, flanking a fox muzzle, crowned at least two mortuary bundles in
Ocucaje tombs.56
While feathered bird effigies incorporating skeletal elements are known from Ocucaje, the only example we have
identified in the Paracas Necropolis mortuary tradition is
the beak of a laughing gull (Larus atricilla)57 bound by a
sleeve of complex looping (Fig. 19d), that once formed part
of a display layer in the male bundle Arena Blanca 4, designated as EIP 1B. It appears significant that entire fox pelts
are documented on the apex of many of the complex Wari
Kayan male bundles, while the two examples of facial elements of a mammal or bird combined with other materials
in a representation, analogous (but not formally similar) to
those from Ocucaje tombs, come from the smaller clusters
of burials in the Arena Blanca sector.
This review of headdress forms at the Paracas Necropolis demonstrates evidence for the gender associations of
headdress elements and for a trajectory of change over
time. However, the relationship between style and time


is inseparable from the social and political affiliations expressed in dress, which result in diversity among contemporary mortuary bundles and channel influences and innovations. Headdress elements were placed in highly visible
locations, where their styles preserve evidence for the projection of diverse identities and the contributions of different producer groups.
There is much more to be done in the analysis of each
headdress form. For instance, among the many examples of
headcloth form 1 there are differences in production practices,
proportions and imagery, including features dominant in a
single mortuary bundle and recurring features that can be
traced among different gravelots. This is true for other headband and headcloth forms, as well as slings, human hair ornaments, and featherwork. The other headcloth forms each
cluster in certain mortuary bundles, which also share some
other characteristics. The gender references are interesting,
and not a simple dichotomy. What other aspects of social
identity may be referenced by these headcloths? The changing
characteristics of featherwork and human (or other) hair ornaments interact, as the two are typically juxtaposed in headdresses and can be used together to ornament an artifact. Do
they embody analogous social or philosophical references?
As the documentation of a wider number of mortuary
bundles improves, new forms of headdress elements will
probably be documented and forms now ‘unique’ may be
perceived as part of a genre present in several contexts. I
expect these elements to be important for comparisons with
other sites in the region, as headdresses are more likely to
be preserved and identifiable in disturbed burials and in
contexts with less favorable conditions of preservation than
Tello and other members of his excavation team found at the
Necropolis of Wari Kayan.

Documentation of headdress elements with data on their location in the mortuary bundle and the biological sex of the individual at the core relies on the analytic contributions of co-director
Elsa Tomasto-Cagigao and the members of the project Practice
in Life, Presence after Death: Style and Substance at the Paracas Necropolis ( ). I thank the personnel in Human Remains, Organic Material, and Textiles of the
Museo Nacional de Antropología, Arqueología e Historia del Peru
(MNAAHP), the Director and staff at the Museo Regional de Ica

54. Lavallée 2008, fig. 9, pp. 86; MNAAHP 2013, fig. 92 pp. 166-167; Verde 2009, fig. 13 p. 68.
55. This canid genus has also been also designated as Lycalopex.
56. Morris and Van Hagen 1993, fig. 44 pp. 65.
57. Identified by Antje Chiu as part of the project Prácticas En Vida, Presencia Después De La Muerte: Lo Estilístico Y Lo Material En La Necrópolis De Paracas, 2012.


A N N H . P E T E R S I N P R E C O LU M B I A N T E X T I L E C O N F E R E N C E V I I ( 2 0 1 7 )

“Adolfo Bermudez Jenkins” (MRI), anthropologists, conservators
and ornithologists at the American Museum of Natural History, as
well as archivists at the MNAAHP, the Instituto Riva-Agüero of Peru’s Catholic University (PUCP) and the Tello Archive of the Museo
de Antropología y Arqueología of San Marcos University (UNMSM).
Archival and collections research has been supported by Dumbarton Oaks (Trustees for Harvard University) in 2005-2007, and by
grant 0852151 from The National Science Foundation in 20092013. This discussion was fostered by Lena Bjerregaard, organizer
of the Pre-Columbian Textiles meeting in Copenhagen in 2016, the
Center for Textile Research (CTR) and the individuals and institutions that have supported this forum.

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