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Traditional Inca Clothing

“Indigenous spirituality gives a new spirit to our fashion.”

For this reason, at ACHIY we want to breathe a new indigenous spirit into our clothing and keep the traditions of the Incas alive. Each of our garments is a work of art that tells a unique story. A story about living in harmony with Pachamama: Mother Earth. Pachamama provides people with everything they need to live.

The life of the Incas was based on self-sufficiency. They lived with what Pachamama had to give to feed and clothe themselves. For their clothing, the Incas used the wool of their llamas and alpacas. Men and women knew how to make high quality clothing from this wool. For the weaving technique, the Incas followed the craft traditions of the ancient Peruvian cultures. For this, they used a table weaving frame, where the shuttle was made of ceramic or wood.

Clothing, however, was not simply something to dress for the Incas. Textiles that were very finely woven and rich in detail symbolized prosperity for Incas. Especially fine cloth was also used as currency and was more valuable than silver and gold. Even one’s taxes could be partly paid in these fine fabrics.

The Incas were considered the most skilled weavers in the New World. Today, however, there are very few of the fine fabrics left, as the Incas burned them to avoid giving them to the Spanish conquistadors.

The textiles of the Incas were made of different materials depending on where they lived. In the coastal regions and in the eastern lowlands, the clothes were mainly made of cotton. In the highlands, on the other hand, textiles were made from alpaca and vicuña wool. The clothing of the Incas was often very colourful. Much of the textiles had the colours red, black, purple, white, yellow, blue, orange, green and sometimes blue. By mixing these basic colours, many different colours could be created.

Each colour had its own meaning. The most important and valuable colour was violet, because it stood for “Mama Ocllo”, who was considered the mother of all Incas. The colour black symbolized both creation and death for the Incas. Yellow, on the other hand, stood for gold or the important crop corn.

While red was associated with blood and thus with victory and domination, the colour green stood for the rainforest, which is located in the north of Peru. The colour green was also associated with rain and thus plant growth. Particularly in the foreground were the crops coca and tobacco. Since the vegetation in the different regions of Peru differs, the green showed a different hue depending on the region.

For the production of the colourful clothing, the Incas needed different colour pigments. Most of these pigments can be found in nature. The colour was extracted from minerals, fruits and vegetables as well as from plants, leaves, tree bark and animals, whereby mainly insects and molluscs were used. Especially the female scale insects “Conchinillas” played an important role in the colour extraction of the intense red dye carmine. Their dried bodies were pulverized with the help of a mortar and then added to boiling water. In Europe, this method of dye extraction has been used since the Iron Age.

In the dyeing process of our ACHIY sweaters, we follow the indigenous traditions of the Inca people and act completely in accordance with Pachamama. We dye our alpaca wool naturally from Andean plant materials. Because animal welfare is our top priority, we use only plant-based materials to dye our beautiful textiles.

Incas wore so-called “Asutu” sandals made of llama wool on their feet. A man wore so-called “huaras”, i.e. short knee pants. In addition, they wore short-sleeved shirts (“Unco’s”). Warm woolen coats protected them from the cold. Women wore so-called “anacu’s”. These are woolen robes that were shaped with a belt. The headgear of the men and women was the most conspicuous piece of clothing, which differed according to the region or tribe.

The colourful and vibrant clothing of the Incas has been a great inspiration to us in the making of our clothing. For this reason, we want to breathe an indigenous spirit into our sweaters with the naturally produced colours and brighten up your everyday life with them. Just like the Incas, each of our designs is a work of art in itself.

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