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Peru gets back Paracas textile treasures

Ancient Paracas textiles which were smuggled out by a Swedish diplomat are returning to Peru after 80 years. The items were handed back to the country following an agreement with museum authorities in Gothenburg last year. The rest of the Paracas textiles will return to Peru over the next seven years. Among the highlights are a 2000-year-old intricately colored shroud, measuring 41 inches by 21 inches, and 88 other textiles.

The so-called shroud of Gothenburg is uniquely complex. It includes some 80 different color tones and subtones such as blue, green, yellow, red and orange. It is divided into 32 frames decorated with items resembling condors, frogs, cats, corn, and human-like figures. Some researchers believe the shroud may be a sort of calendar related to the tracking of farming seasons. Experts still do not fully understand how the shroud’s creators achieved the combination of sewing techniques and pigments. 

Textiles are very fragile. There are very few countries in the world that have conserved fabrics. Peru is one of them. These textile fragments are made from camelid wool (probably llama or alpaca) and plant fibers (identified as cotton). The bright colors include indigo, green, browns, pink and white. These were all produced using natural dyes and would have been particularly striking against the sandy beige colors of the surrounding landscape.