Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino

Cultures > Arid North > Inka in Chile


Textiles were a basic commodity of the Inka State, and served as status symbols, political gifts and as offerings. The Inka and their subjects wore clothing that differentiated them by both gender and social standing. In Kollasuyu, Inka textiles combined the esthetics of Tawantinsuyu with the traditional styles of the region. The same was true of ceramics, as local production continued but with some Imperial stylistic influences, especially on the form of the ceramic vessels produced. Imperial style Inka vessels were sometimes given as gifts to distinguished local leaders in recognition of their service to the State and as part of the traditional Inka policy of reciprocity. Metals were considered sacred to the Inka, as a medium that linked the supernatural world with social identity, prestige and power. Gold and silver were used to manufacture fine adornments that exclusively for high ranking officials and religious rites, while bronze was less precious and was also used to make tools. Rock art, for its part, incorporated new styles during this period. In the North, the typical figurative camelid designs became the most prevalent image, although three dimensional models of agricultural fields and irrigation canals also appear. In the central zone of Chile large engraved geometric figures predominated, motifs that were similar to those used to decorate Inka and Inka-influenced ceramics.