Inca Tocapus

Inca Tocapus
Inca Tocapus

Historic fabrics, due to their own material conditions and uses, have hardly withstood the passage of time. However, there are pieces scattered around various museums around the world, which, given their character of being something unique, acquire the value of great heritage jewels.

That is the case of the Inca Tocapu that is stored in the Museo de América in Madrid, from the Department of Cuzco in Peru. A piece made of vegetable fiber, with dimensions of 122 x 22 centimeters, and it is estimated that it was woven between the second half of the 15th century and the first half of the 16th.


Ornamented band with tocapus from the Museo de América in Madrid

Here are the usual characteristics of these fabrics from the Inca culture. In them, a grid is created with a continuous color, and each of the remaining spaces is filled with geometric motifs. Precisely, the decoration of these rectangular spaces is what is called tocapu. A decoration that in this case has a clear diagonal orientation with respect to the general grid of the entire band.

While the base tone of the piece is red, more colors are used to weave the ornamental motifs, there are blues and violets, also greens and yellows, as well as white, without forgetting the same base red.

By the way, for a long time it was thought that these shapes were just ornamental elements,no meaning. But for some time, scholars have considered that perhaps it could be an embryonic writing system, it would appear both in textile materials and in some ceramic vessels and other elements of Inca art, where many of these tocapus are repeated.

The textile art always had a great importance in the culture and art of the Incas. In those known as monasteries of the Sun this type of fabric was made, for the most varied uses, but always with a more than remarkable finesse and quality.

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